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H3danue nemeepmoe 

M O C K B A 

V. I. L E N I N 




May 1901 - February 1902 




From Marx to Mao 

© Digital Reprints 

First printing 1960 
Second printing 1964 

Third printing 1972 
Fourth printing 1975 

Fifth printing 1977 

n 10102-671 . r 
014(01)-77 ootjHbji. 



Preface 11 






I 36 

II 43 

III 48 

IV 55 

V 62 

VI 72 






I The "Law" of Diminishing Returns 107 

II The Theory of Rent 119 

III Machinery in Agriculture 130 

IV The Abolition of the Antithesis Between Town and 
Country. Particular Questions Raised by the "Critics" 146 

V "The Prosperity of Advanced, Modern Small Farms". 

The Baden Example 159 



VI The Productivity of a Small and a Big Farm. An 

Example from East Prussia 167 

VII The Inquiry into Peasant Farming in Baden 182 

VIII General Statistics of German Agriculture for 1882 

and 1895. The Question of the Medium Farms ... 194 

IX Dairy Farming and Agricultural Co-operative Societies 
in Germany. The Agricultural Population in Ger- 
many Divided According to Its Position in the Econ- 
omy 205 

ABROAD, September 21-22 (October 4-5), 1901 223 


from the Minutes) 225 

BER 21 (OCTOBER 4), 1901 230 






I Famine 253 

II Attitude Towards the Crisis and the Famine 274 

III The Third Element 281 

IV Two Speeches by Marshals of the Nobility 289 














WHAT IS TO BE DONE? Burning Questions of Our Movement ... 347 

Preface 349 

I Dogmatism and "Freedom of Criticism" 352 

A. What Does "Freedom of Criticism" Mean? 352 

B. The New Advocates of "Freedom of Criticism" . . . 356 

C. Criticism in Russia 361 

D. Engels on the Importance of the Theoretical 
Struggle 368 

II The Spontaneity of the Masses and the Consciousness 

of the Social-Democrats 373 

A. The Beginning of the Spontaneous Upsurge .... 374 

B. Bowing to Spontaneity. Rabochaya Mysl 378 

C. The Self-Emancipation Group and Rabocheye Dyelo 387 

III Trade-Unionist Politics and Social-Democratic Politics 397 

A. Political Agitation and Its Restriction by the Econ- 
omists 398 

B. How Martynov Rendered Plekhanov More Profound 408 

C. Political Exposures and "Training in Revolution- 
ary Activity" 412 

D. What Is There in Common Between Economism 

and Terrorism? 417 

E. The Working Class as Vanguard Fighter for Democ- 
racy 421 

F. Once More "Slanderers", Once More "Mystifiers" . . . 436 

IV The Primitiveness of the Economists and the Organi- 
sation of the Revolutionaries 440 


A. What Is Primitiveness? 441 

B. Primitiveness and Economism 444 

C. Organisation of Workers and Organisation of Rev- 
olutionaries 451 

D. The Scope of Organisational Work 467 

E. "Conspirational" Organisation and "Democratism" 473 

F. Local and All-Russian Work 482 

V The "Plan" for an All-Russian Political Newspaper 492 

A. Who Was Offended by the Article "Where To Begin" 493 

B. Can a Newspaper Be a Collective Organiser? .... 498 

C. What type of Organisation Do We Require? .... 510 

Conclusion 517 

Appendix. The Attempt to Unite Iskra with Rabocheye 

Dyelo 521 

Correction to What Is To Be Done? 528 

Notes 531 

The Life and Work of V. I. Lenin. Chronology 569 


First page of Iskra, No. 4, carrying Lenin's article "Where 

To Begin". 1901 15 

Facsimile of the cover of the magazine Zarya, No. 2-3 
1901; which published the following of Lenin's writings: 
"The Persecutors of the Zemstvo and the Hannibals of 
Liberalism", the first four chapters of "The Agrarian 
Question and the 'Critics of Marx'" (under the heading 

'"Critics' on the Agrarian Question"), and "Review of Home 
Affairs" 33 

Facsimile of the title page of the magazine Obrasovaniye, 
No. 2, for 1906 which carried chapters V-IX of Lenin's 
"The Agrarian Question and the 'Critics of Marx'" .... 105 

First page of the manuscript of Lenin's "The Journal Svo- 

boda". 1901 312-313 

First page of the manuscript of Lenin's "Anarchism and So- 
cialism". 1901 329 

Cover of Lenin's What Is To Be Done? 1902 348-49 



Volume Five contains Lenin's works written between 
May 1901 and February 1902. These include articles and 
notes published in Iskra: "Where To Begin", "Another Mas- 
sacre", "A Valuable Admission", "The Lessons of the Crisis", 
"The Serf-Owners at Work", "Fighting the Famine-Stricken", 
"Party Affairs Abroad", "A Talk with Defenders of Econ- 
omism", "Demonstrations Have Begun", "Political Agita- 
tion and 'The Class Point of View'", and others. In these 
articles Lenin deals with the most important events in Rus- 
sian domestic affairs and throws light on the concrete tasks 
of building the Party and of the class struggle of the prole- 

In the article "The Persecutors of the Zemstvo and the 
Hannibals of Liberalism", published in Zarya in December 
1901, Lenin elaborates the tactics of the Marxist party of 
the proletariat in relation to the liberal bourgeoisie. 

"The Agrarian Question and the 'Critics of Marx'" ex- 
pounds and develops the Marxist theory of the agrarian ques- 
tion and is a critique of the Russian and international 

This volume also contains Lenin's What Is To Be Done? 
the theoretical premises of which laid the foundations of 
the ideology of the Bolshevik Party. 

Seven of the works of Lenin to be found in this volume are 
included in the Collected Works for the first time. Of these, 
three are notes published in Iskra: "A Zemstvo Congress", 
"On a Letter from 'Southern Workers'", and "Reply to 
'A Reader'". The other four documents are: "Speech Deliv- 
ered on September 21 (October 4, new style)" [Lenin's 



speech at the "Unity" Conference of the R.S.D.L.P. organi- 
sations abroad on September 21 (October 4), 1901], "The 
Journal Svoboda", "On the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of the 
Revolutionary Activity of G. V. Plekhanov", and "Anarch- 
ism and Socialism". These four items appeared in print 
only after the October Revolution. 


Written in May 1901 

Published in Islcra, 
No. 4, May 1901 

Published according to 
the Iskra text 

First page of Iskra, No. 4, carrying Lenin's 
article "Where To Begin". 1901 


In recent years the question of "what is to be done" 
has confronted Russian Social-Democrats with particular 
insistence. It is not a question of what path we must choose 
(as was the case in the late eighties and early nineties), but 
of what practical steps we must take upon the known path 
and how they shall be taken. It is a question of a system and 
plan of practical work. And it must be admitted that we have 
not yet solved this question of the character and the methods 
of struggle, fundamental for a party of practical activity, 
that it still gives rise to serious differences of opinion which 
reveal a deplorable ideological instability and vacillation. 
On the one hand, the "Economist" trend, far from being dead, 
is endeavouring to clip and narrow the work of political 
organisation and agitation. On the other, unprincipled eclec- 
ticism is again rearing its head, aping every new "trend", 
and is incapable of distinguishing immediate demands from 
the main tasks and permanent needs of the movement as 
a whole. This trend, as we know, has ensconced itself in 
Rabocheye Dyelo. 2 This journal's latest statement of "pro- 
gramme", a bombastic article under the bombastic title "A 
Historic Turn" {"Listok" Rabochevo Dyela, No. 6 3 ), bears out 
with special emphasis the characterisation we have given. 
Only yesterday there was a flirtation with "Economism", a fury 
over the resolute condemnation of Rabochaya Mysl, 4 and 
Plekhanov's presentation of the question of the struggle against 
autocracy was being toned down. But today Liebknecht's 
words are being quoted: "If the circumstances change with- 
in twenty-four hours, then tactics must be changed within 
twenty-four hours." There is talk of a "strong fighting organ- 
isation" for direct attack, for storming the autocracy; of 
"broad revolutionary political agitation among the masses" 
(how energetic we are now — both revolutionary and 



political!); of "ceaseless calls for street protest,"; of "street 
demonstrations of a pronounced [sic\] political character"; 
and so on, and so forth. 

We might perhaps declare ourselves happy at Rabocheye 
Dyelo's quick grasp of the programme we put forward in the 
first issue of Iskra, 5 calling for the formation of a strong well- 
organised party, whose aim is not only to win isolated con- 
cessions but to storm the fortress of the autocracy itself; 
but the lack of any set point of view in these individuals 
can only dampen our happiness. 

Rabocheye Dyelo, of course, mentions Liebknecht's name in 
vain. The tactics of agitation in relation to some special 
question, or the tactics with regard to some detail of party 
organisation may be changed in twenty-four hours; but only 
people devoid of all principle are capable of changing, in 
twenty-four hours, or, for that matter, in twenty-four months, 
their view on the necessity — in general, constantly, and 
absolutely — of an organisation of struggle and of political 
agitation among the masses. It is ridiculous to plead different 
circumstances and a change of periods: the building of a fight- 
ing organisation and the conduct of political agitation are 
essential under any "drab, peaceful" circumstances, in any 
period, no matter how marked by a "declining revolutionary 
spirit"; moreover, it is precisely in such periods and under 
such circumstances that work of this kind is particularly 
necessary, since it is too late to form the organisation in 
times of explosion and outbursts; the party must be in a state 
of readiness to launch activity at a moment's notice. "Change 
the tactics within twenty-four hours"! But in order to 
change tactics it is first necessary to have tactics; without 
a strong organisation skilled in waging political struggle 
under all circumstances and at all times, there can be no ques- 
tion of that systematic plan of action, illumined by firm 
principles and steadfastly carried out, which alone is worthy 
of the name of tactics. Let us, indeed, consider the matter; 
we are now being told that the "historic moment" has pre- 
sented our Party with a "completely new" question — the 
question of terror. Yesterday the "completely new" question 
was political organisation and agitation; today it is terror. 
Is it not strange to hear people who have so grossly forgotten 
their principles holding forth on a radical change in tactics? 



Fortunately, Rabocheye Dyelo is in error. The question of 
terror is not a new question at all; it will suffice to recall 
briefly the established views of Russian Social-Democracy 
on the subject. 

In principle we have never rejected, and cannot reject, 
terror. Terror is one of the forms of military action that may 
be perfectly suitable and even essential at a definite juncture 
in the battle, given a definite state of the troops and the 
existence of definite conditions. But the important point is 
that terror, at the present time, is by no means suggested as 
an operation for the army in the field, an operation closely 
connected with and integrated into the entire system of strug- 
gle, but as an independent form of occasional attack unre- 
lated to any army. Without a central body and with the 
weakness of local revolutionary organisations, this, in fact, 
is all that terror can be. We, therefore, declare emphatically 
that under the present conditions such a means of struggle 
is inopportune and unsuitable; that it diverts the most 
active fighters from their real task, the task which is most 
important from the standpoint of the interests of the move- 
ment as a whole; and that it disorganises the forces, not of 
the government, but of the revolution. We need but recall 
the recent events. With our own eyes we saw that the mass 
of workers and "common people" of the towns pressed 
forward in struggle, while the revolutionaries lacked a staff of 
leaders and organisers. Under such conditions, is there not the 
danger that, as the most energetic revolutionaries go over 
to terror, the fighting contingents, in whom alone it is possible 
to place serious reliance, will be weakened? Is there not the 
danger of rupturing the contact between the revolutionary 
organisations and the disunited masses of the discontented, 
the protesting, and the disposed to struggle, who are weak 
precisely because they are disunited? Yet it is this contact 
that is the sole guarantee of our success. Far be it from us to 
deny the significance of heroic individual blows, but it is 
our duty to sound a vigorous warning against becoming 
infatuated with terror, against taking it to be the chief and 
basic means of struggle, as so many people strongly incline 
to do at present. Terror can never be a regular military op- 
eration; at best it can only serve as one of the methods em- 
ployed in a decisive assault. But can we issue the call for such 



a decisive assault at the present moment? Rabocheye Dyelo 
apparently thinks we can. At any rate, it exclaims: "Form 
assault columns!" But this, again, is more zeal than reason. 
The main body of our military forces consists of volunteers 
and insurgents. We possess only a few small units of regular 
troops, and these are not even mobilised; they are not con- 
nected with one another, nor have they been trained to form 
columns of any sort, let alone assault columns. In view of 
all this, it must be clear to anyone who is capable of appre- 
ciating the general conditions of our struggle and who is 
mindful of them at every "turn" in the historical course of 
events that at the present moment our slogan cannot be "To 
the assault", but has to be, "Lay siege to the enemy fort- 
ress". In other words, the immediate task of our Party is 
not to summon all available forces for the attack right now, 
but to call for the formation of a revolutionary organisation 
capable of uniting all forces and guiding the movement in 
actual practice and not in name alone, that is, an organisation 
ready at any time to support every protest and every outbreak 
and use it to build up and consolidate the fighting forces 
suitable for the decisive struggle. 

The lesson of the February and March events 6 has been 
so impressive that no disagreement in principle with this 
conclusion is now likely to be encountered. What we need 
at the present moment, however, is not a solution of the prob- 
lem in principle but a practical solution. We should not 
only be clear on the nature of the organisation that is needed 
and its precise purpose, but we must elaborate a definite 
plan for an organisation, so that its formation may be under- 
taken from all aspects. In view of the pressing importance 
of the question, we, on our part, take the liberty of submit- 
ting to the comrades a skeleton plan to be developed in 
greater detail in a pamphlet now in preparation for print. 7 

In our opinion, the starting-point of our activities, the 
first step towards creating the desired organisation, or, 
let us say, the main thread which, if followed, would enable 
us steadily to develop, deepen, and extend that organisation, 
should be the founding of an All-Russian political news- 
paper. A newspaper is what we most of all need; without 
it we cannot conduct that systematic, all-round propaganda 
and agitation, consistent in principle, which is the chief 



and permanent task of Social-Democracy in general and, in 
particular, the pressing task of the moment, when interest 
in politics and in questions of socialism has been aroused 
among the broadest strata of the population. Never has the 
need been felt so acutely as today for reinforcing dispersed 
agitation in the form of individual action, local leaflets, 
pamphlets, etc., by means of generalised and systematic 
agitation that can only be conducted with the aid of the pe- 
riodical press. It may be said without exaggeration that the 
frequency and regularity with which a newspaper is printed 
(and distributed) can serve as a precise criterion of how well 
this cardinal and most essential sector of our militant 
activities is built up. Furthermore, our newspaper must 
be All-Russian. If we fail, and as long as we fail, to combine 
our efforts to influence the people and the government by 
means of the printed word, it will be Utopian to think of 
combining other means, more complex, more difficult, but 
also more decisive, for exerting influence. Our movement 
suffers in the first place, ideologically, as well as in practical 
and organisational respects, from its state of fragmentation, 
from the almost complete immersion of the overwhelming 
majority of Social-Democrats in local work, which narrows 
their outlook, the scope of their activities, and their skill 
in the maintenance of secrecy and their preparedness. It is 
precisely in this state of fragmentation that one must look 
for the deepest roots of the instability and the waverings 
noted above. The first step towards eliminating this short- 
coming, towards transforming divers local movements into 
a single, All-Russian movement, must be the founding of 
an All-Russian newspaper. Lastly, what we need is definite- 
ly a political newspaper. Without a political organ, a politi- 
cal movement deserving that name is inconceivable in the 
Europe of today. Without such a newspaper we cannot pos- 
sibly fulfil our task — that of concentrating all the elements 
of political discontent and protest, of vitalising thereby the 
revolutionary movement of the proletariat. We have taken 
the first step, we have aroused in the working class a passion 
for "economic", factory exposures; we must now take the next 
step, that of arousing in every section of the population that 
is at all politically conscious a passion for political exposure. 
We must not be discouraged by the fact that the voice of 



political exposure is today so feeble, timid, and infrequent. 
This is not because of a wholesale submission to police despot- 
ism, but because those who are able and ready to make ex- 
posures have no tribune from which to speak, no eager and 
encouraging audience, they do not see anywhere among the 
people that force to which it would be worth while directing 
their complaint against the "omnipotent" Russian Govern- 
ment. But today all this is rapidly changing. There is such 
a force — it is the revolutionary proletariat, which has demon- 
strated its readiness, not only to listen to and support the sum- 
mons to political struggle, but boldly to engage in battle. 
We are now in a position to provide a tribune for the nation- 
wide exposure of the tsarist government, and it is our duty 
to do this. That tribune must be a Social-Democratic news- 
paper. The Russian working class, as distinct from the other 
classes and strata of Russian society, displays a constant in- 
terest in political knowledge and manifests a constant and 
extensive demand (not only in periods of intensive unrest) 
for illegal literature. When such a mass demand is evident, 
when the training of experienced revolutionary leaders has 
already begun, and when the concentration of the working 
class makes it virtual master in the working-class districts 
of the big cities and in the factory settlements and commu- 
nities, it is quite feasible for the proletariat to found a polit- 
ical newspaper. Through the proletariat the newspaper will 
reach the urban petty bourgeoisie, the rural handicraftsmen, 
and the peasants, thereby becoming a real people's political 

The role of a newspaper, however, is not limited solely 
to the dissemination of ideas, to political education, and to 
the enlistment of political allies. A newspaper is not only 
a collective propagandist and a collective agitator, it is 
also a collective organiser. In this last respect it may be lik- 
ened to the scaffolding round a building under construction, 
which marks the contours of the structure and facilitates 
communication between the builders, enabling them to dis- 
tribute the work and to view the common results achieved 
by their organised labour. With the aid of the newspaper, and 
through it, a permanent organisation will naturally take 
shape that will engage, not only in local activities, but 
in regular general work, and will train its members to fol- 



low political events carefully, appraise their significance and 
their effect on the various strata of the population, and develop 
effective means for the revolutionary party to influence those 
events. The mere technical task of regularly supplying the 
newspaper with copy and of promoting regular distribution 
will necessitate a network of local agents of the united party, 
who will maintain constant contact with one another, know 
the general state of affairs, get accustomed to performing 
regularly their detailed functions in the All-Russian work, 
and test their strength in the organisation of various revolu- 
tionary actions. This network of agents* will form the skel- 
eton of precisely the kind of organisation we need — one that is 
sufficiently large to embrace the whole country; sufficiently 
broad and many-sided to effect a strict and detailed division 
of labour; sufficiently well tempered to be able to conduct 
steadily its own work under any circumstances, at all "sud- 
den turns", and in face of all contingencies; sufficiently flex- 
ible to be able, on the one hand, to avoid an open battle 
against an overwhelming enemy, when the enemy has con- 
centrated all his forces at one spot, and yet, on the other, to 
take advantage of his unwieldiness and to attack him when 
and where he least expects it. Today we are faced with the 
relatively easy task of supporting student demonstrations 
in the streets of big cities; tomorrow we may, perhaps, have 
the more difficult task of supporting, for example, the unem- 
ployed movement in some particular area, and the day after 
to be at our posts in order to play a revolutionary part in 
a peasant uprising. Today we must take advantage of the tense 
political situation arising out of the government's cam- 
paign against the Zemstvo; tomorrow we may have to sup- 
port popular indignation against some tsarist bashi-bazouk 
on the rampage and help, by means of boycott, indictment 
demonstrations, etc., to make things so hot for him as to 

* It will be understood of course, that these agents could work 
successfully only in the closest contact with the local committees 
(groups, study circles) of our Party. In general, the entire plan we 
project can, of course, be implemented only with the most active 
support of the committees which have on repeated occasions at- 
tempted to unite the Party and which, we are sure, will achieve this 
unification — if not today, then tomorrow, if not in one way, then in 



force him into open retreat. Such a degree of combat readi- 
ness can be developed only through the constant activity 
of regular troops. If we join forces to produce a common news- 
paper, this work will train and bring into the foreground, 
not only the most skilful propagandists, but the most capa- 
ble organisers, the most talented political party leaders 
capable, at the right moment, of releasing the slogan for the 
decisive struggle and of taking the lead in that struggle. 

In conclusion, a few words to avoid possible misunder- 
standing. We have spoken continuously of systematic, planned 
preparation, yet it is by no means our intention to imply 
that the autocracy can be overthrown only by a regular siege 
or by organised assault. Such a view would be absurd and 
doctrinaire. On the contrary, it is quite possible, and 
historically much more probable, that the autocracy will 
collapse under the impact of one of the spontaneous outbursts 
or unforeseen political complications which constantly threat- 
en it from all sides. But no political party that wishes to 
avoid adventurous gambles can base its activities on the an- 
ticipation of such outbursts and complications. We must 
go our own way, and we must steadfastly carry on our regular 
work, and the less our reliance on the unexpected, the less 
the chance of our being caught unawares by any "historic 



It seems that we are now passing through a period in which 
our working-class movement is once more about to engage 
with irresistible force in the sharp conflicts that terrify the 
government and the propertied classes and bring joy and 
encouragement to socialists. Yes, we rejoice in these conflicts 
and are encouraged by them, notwithstanding the tremendous 
number of victims claimed by military reprisals, because the 
working class is proving by its resistance that it is not recon- 
ciled to its position, that it refuses to remain in slavery or 
to submit meekly to violence and tyranny. Even with the 
most peaceful course of events, the present system always 
and inevitably exacts countless sacrifices from the working 
class. Thousands and tens of thousands of men and women, 
who toil all their lives to create wealth for others, perish 
from starvation and constant malnutrition, die prematurely 
from diseases caused by horrible working conditions, by wretch- 
ed housing and overwork. He is a hundred times a hero who 
prefers to die fighting in open struggle against the defenders 
and protectors of this infamous system rather than die the lin- 
gering death of a crushed, broken-down, and submissive 
nag. We do not by any means want to imply that scuffling 
with the police is the best form of struggle. On the contrary, 
we have always told the workers that it is in their interests 
to carry on the struggle in a more calm and restrained man- 
ner, and to try to make use of all discontent for support to 
the organised struggle of the revolutionary party. But the 
principal source that sustains revolutionary Social-Democra- 
cy is the spirit of protest among the working class which, in 
view of the violence and oppression surrounding the work- 
ers, is bound to manifest itself from time to time in the form 



of desperate outbursts. These outbursts arouse to conscious 
life the widest sections of the workers, oppressed by poverty 
and ignorance, and stimulate in them a noble hatred for the 
oppressors and enemies of liberty. That is why the news 
of massacres such as that which took place at the Obukhov 
Works on May 7, makes us exclaim: "The workers' revolt has 
been suppressed; long live the revolt of the workers!" 

There was a time, and not very long ago at that, when 
workers' revolts were a rare exception, called forth only 
by some special circumstances. Now things have changed. 
A few years ago industry was flourishing, trade was brisk, 
and the demand for workers was great. Nevertheless, the work- 
ers organised a number of strikes to improve their working 
conditions; they realised that they must not let the moment 
slip by, that they must take advantage of the time when the 
employers were making particularly high profits and it would 
be easier to win concessions from them. The boom, however, 
has given way to a crisis. The manufacturers cannot sell their 
goods, profits have declined, bankruptcies have increased, 
factories are cutting production, and workers are being dis- 
charged and turned into the streets in masses without a crust 
of bread. The workers now have to fight desperately, not to 
improve their conditions, but to maintain the old standards 
and to reduce the losses the employers impose on them. And so 
the working-class movement develops in depth and extent: 
at first, struggle in exceptional and isolated cases; then, un- 
ceasing and stubborn battles during industrial prosperity 
and the trade boom; finally, similar unceasing and stubborn 
struggle in the period of crisis. We may now say that the 
working-class movement has become a permanent feature 
of our life and that it will grow whatever the conditions. 

The change-over from boom to crisis will not only teach 
our workers that united struggle is a permanent necessity, 
it will also destroy the harmful illusions that began to take 
shape at the time of industrial prosperity. By means of 
strikes, the workers were able in some places to force conces- 
sions from the employers with comparative ease, and this 
"economic" struggle assumed an exaggerated significance; 
it was forgotten that trade unions and strikes can, at best, 
only win slightly better terms for the sale of labour-pow- 
er as a commodity. Trade unions and strikes cannot help in 



times of crisis when there is no demand for this "commodity", 
they cannot change the conditions which convert labour- 
power into a commodity and which doom the masses of work- 
ing people to dire need and unemployment. To change these 
conditions, a revolutionary struggle against the whole 
existing social and political system is necessary; the indus- 
trial crisis will convince very many workers of the justice 
of this statement. 

Let us return to the massacre of May 7. We give below avail- 
able information on the May strikes and manifestations of 
unrest among the St. Petersburg workers. 8 We shall also exam- 
ine the police report of the massacre. Lately we have learned 
to understand the significance of government (and police) 
reports of strikes, demonstrations, and clashes with the 
troops; we have gathered sufficient material to judge the 
reliability of these reports — the smoke of police false- 
hoods may sometimes give a clue to the fire of popular 

"On May 7," says the official report, "about two hundred 
workers employed in various departments of the Obukhov 
Steel Works in the village of Alexandrovskoye on the Schliis- 
selburg Highway stopped work after the dinner break, and in 
the course of their interview with Lieutenant Colonel 
Ivanov, assistant to the director of the works, put forward 
a number of groundless demands." 

If the workers stopped work without giving two weeks' 
notice (assuming the stoppage was not due to lawless acts 
all too frequently committed by the employers), even 
according to Russian law (which of late has been systemati- 
cally enlarged and sharpened against the workers), they have 
merely committed a common offence for which they are lia- 
ble to prosecution in a magistrate's court. But the Russian 
Government is making itself more and more ridiculous by 
its severity. On the one hand, laws are passed designating 
new crimes (e.g., wilful refusal to work or participation in 
a mob that damages property or resists armed force), penal- 
ties for striking are increased, etc., while on the other, the 
physical and political possibility of applying these laws 
and imposing corresponding penalties is disappearing. It 
is physically impossible to prosecute thousands and tens of 
thousands of men for refusing to work, for striking, or for 



"mobs". It is politically impossible to try each case of this 
sort, for no matter how the judges are selected and no matter 
how publicity is emasculated, there still remains at least 
the shadow of a trial, naturally a "trial" of the government 
and not of the workers. Thus, criminal laws passed for the 
definite purpose of facilitating the government's political 
struggle against the proletariat (and at the same time of 
concealing the political character of the struggle by "state" 
arguments about "public order", etc.) are steadily forced 
into the background by direct political struggle and open 
street clashes. "Justice" throws off the mask of majesty and im- 
partiality, and takes to flight, leaving the field to the police, 
the gendarmes, and the Cossacks, who are greeted with stones. 

Let us take the government's reference to the "demands" 
of the workers. From a legal standpoint stoppage of work 
is a misdemeanour, irrespective of the workers' demands. 
But the government has lost its chance of basing itself on 
the law it recently issued, and it tries to justify its reprisals 
carried out with "the means at its disposal" by declaring the 
workers' demands to be without basis. Who were the judges 
in this affair? Lieutenant-Colonel Ivanov, assistant to the 
director of the works, the very authority against whom the 
workers were complaining! It is not surprising, therefore, 
that the workers reply to such explanations by the powers 
that be with a hail of stones. 

And so, when the workers poured into the street and held 
up horse trams a real battle began. Apparently the workers 
fought with all their might, for, although armed only with 
stones, they managed twice to beat off the attacks by police, 
gendarmes, mounted guards, and the armed factory guard.* 
It is true, if police reports are to be believed, "several shots" 
were fired from the crowd, but no one was injured by them. 
Stones, however, fell "like hail", and the workers not only 

* Note this! The government communication states that "the 
armed factory guard" "were already standing by in the factory yard", 
whereas the gendarmes, mounted guards, and the city police were 
called out later. Since when, and why, was an armed guard main- 
tained in readiness in the factory yard? Since the First of May? Did 
they expect a workers' demonstration? That we do not know; but it 
is clear that the government is deliberately concealing facts that 
would explain the mounting discontent and indignation of the workers. 



put up a stubborn resistance, they displayed resourcefulness 
and ability in adapting themselves immediately to the 
situation and in selecting the best form of struggle. They 
occupied the neighbouring courtyards and from over the fences 
poured a hail of stones on-the tsar's bashi-bazouks, so that 
even after three volleys had been fired, killing one man (only 
one?) and wounding eight (?) (one of whom died the fol- 
lowing day), even after this, although the crowd had fled, 
the fight still continued and some companies of the Omsk 
Infantry Regiment had to be called out to "clear the workers 
out of the neighbouring courtyards". 

The government emerged victorious, but such victories 
will bring nearer its ultimate defeat. Every clash with 
the people will increase the number of indignant workers 
who are ready to fight, and will bring into the foreground 
more experienced, better armed, and bolder leaders. We have 
already discussed the plan of action these leaders should 
follow. We have repeatedly pointed to the imperative 
necessity for a sound revolutionary organisation. But in 
connection with the events of May 7, we must not lose sight 
of the following: 

Much has been said recently about the impossibility and 
the hopelessness of street fighting against modern troops. 
Particularly insistent on this have been the wise "Critics" 
who have dragged out the old lumber of bourgeois science in 
the guise of new, impartial, scientific conclusions, and have 
distorted Engels' words that refer, with reservations, 
only to a temporary tactic of the German Social-Democrats. 9 
But we see from the example of even this one clash how 
absurd these arguments are. Street fighting is possible; it is 
not the position of the fighters, but the position of the govern- 
ment that is hopeless if it has to deal with larger numbers 
than those employed in a single factory. In the May 7 fight- 
ing the workers had nothing but stones, and, of course, the 
mere prohibition of the city mayor will not prevent them 
from securing other weapons next time. The workers were 
unprepared and numbered only three and a half thousand; 
nevertheless, they repelled the attack of several hundred 
mounted guards, gendarmes, city police, and infantry. 
Did the police find it easy to storm the one house, No. 63, 
Schliisselburg Highway? 10 Ask yourselves — will it be easy to 



"clear the workers" out of whole blocks, not merely out of 
one or two courtyards, in the St. Petersburg working-class 
districts? When the time of decisive battle comes, will it 
not be necessary to "clear" the houses and courtyards of the 
capital, not only of workers, but of all who have not forgot- 
ten the infamous massacre of March 4, 11 who have not become 
reconciled to the police government, but are only terri- 
fied by it and not yet confident of their own strength? 

Comrades! Do your best to collect the names of those killed 
and wounded on May 7. Let all workers in the capital honour 
their memory and prepare for a new and decisive struggle 
against the police government for the people's liberty! 

Iskra, No. 5, June 1901 

Published according to 
the Iskra text 


Written in June 1901 Published according to the text in 

First published in December 1901 the magazine checked with the text 

in Zarya, No. 2-3 ln „ m t£e collection: 

Signed- T. P. V1 - IJ y ln - Twelve Years. 1907 

Ns 2-3 

1901-ro r. 




Heft 2-3 


HayHHO-no.iHTHMecKiii acypHajii>. 
H3flaeTCH npH CnjuKaflmeMi. *»» 
yiacTiH T. B. ILiexaHOBa, B. H. 
3acynH<n» b EE. AKcentpoaa. ** 

11,'feHa 3 py6. 

J. H. V. Dietz Nachl. (0. a. b. H.) 

Facsimile of the cover of the magazine Zarya, No. 2-3, 1901, which 
published the following of Lenin's writings: "The Persecutors of the 
Zemstvo and the Hannibals of Liberalism", the first four chapters 
of "The Agrarian Question and the Critics of Marx " (under the 
heading "The Critics' on the Agrarian Question "), and "Review of 

Home Affairs" 


It has been said of the Russian peasant that he is poorest 
of all in the consciousness of his poverty; of the ordinary 
Russian subject, it may be said that, while he is poor in 
civil rights, he is poorest of all in the consciousness of his lack 
of rights. Just as the peasant has grown accustomed to his 
wretched poverty, to living his life without pondering over 
the causes of his wretchedness, or the possibility of removing 
it, so the plain Russian subject has become accustomed to 
the omnipotence of the government, to living on without 
a thought as to whether the government can retain its 
arbitrary power any longer and whether, side by side with 
it, there are not forces undermining the outmoded political 
system. A particularly good "antidote" to this political apa- 
thy and somnolence is usually contained in the "secret docu- 
ments"* which reveal that, not only desperate cutthroats 
and confirmed enemies of the government, but also members 
of the government itself, including ministers, and even the 
tsar, realise the tottering state of the autocracy and seek 
ways and means to improve their position, which they con- 
sider totally unsatisfactory. One such document is the 
Memorandum drawn up by Witte, who, having quarrelled 
with the Minister of the Interior, Goremykin, over the 
question of introducing Zemstvo institutions in the outlying 
regions, decided to display his perspicacity and his loyalty 
to the autocracy by drawing up an indictment against the 

* I refer, of course, only to that "antidote" — by no means the sole 
or even the most "powerful" one — which is represented by the press. 

** The Autocracy and the Zemstvo. A Confidential Memorandum by 
the Minister of Finance, S. Y. Witte, with a preface and annotations 
by R. N. S. Published by Zarya} 3 Stuttgart, Verlag von J. H. W. Dietz 
Nachf., 1901, pp. xliv and 212. 



The charge is levelled against the Zemstvo that it is 
incompatible with autocracy, that by its very nature it is 
constitutional, that its existence inevitably gives rise to 
friction and conflict between the representatives of the pub- 
lic and the government. The indictment is drawn up on 
the basis of vast (relatively) and fairly well prepared 
material, and since it is an indictment concerning a politi- 
cal affair (a rather peculiar one at that), we may be sure that 
it will be read with no less interest and will prove no less 
useful, than were the indictments in political trials once 
published in our newspapers. 


Let us endeavour to determine whether the assertion that 
our Zemstvo is constitutional is borne out by the facts, 
and if so, to what extent, and in what precise sense. 

In this matter, the epoch in which the Zemstvo was 
introduced is of particular importance. The fall of serfdom 
was a historical event of such magnitude that it inevitably 
made a rent in the police veil concealing class antag- 
onisms. The most solidified and best educated class, and 
the one most accustomed to political power — the nobility — 
displayed a very definite desire to restrict the power of the 
autocracy by means of representative institutions. The 
reference to this fact in Witte's Memorandum is extremely 
instructive. He says: "Declarations concerning the neces- 
sity of 'representation for the nobility' and concerning 
'the right of the Russian nation to elect its representatives 
to advise the supreme authority' were made at assemblies 
of nobles as far back as 1859-60." "Even the word 'consti- 
tution' was uttered."* "Several Gubernia** Committees 

* Dragomanov, "Zemstvo Liberalism in Russia", p. 4. Witte very 
often fails to mention that he has quoted from Dragomanov (cf., 
for example, pp. 36-37 of the Memorandum and pp. 55-56 of the 
above-mentioned article), although he refers to him in some other 

** Gubernia, uyezd, volost — Russian administrative-territorial 
units. The largest of these was the gubernia, which had its subdi- 
visions in uyezds, which in turn were subdivided into volosts. This 
system of districting continued under the Soviet power until the 
introduction of the new system of administrative-territorial division 
of the country in 1929-30. — Tr. 


for the Peasant Question and individual members of commit- 
tees called before the drafting commissions urged the necessi- 
ty of drawing the public into participation in the admini- 
stration. 'Deputies are openly striving for a constitution,' 
wrote Nikitenko in his diary in 1859." 

"When, after the promulgation of the Regulations of February 19, 
1861, 14 the hopes entertained in the autocracy were far from realised, 
and, moreover, when the 'redder' elements in the administration (like 
N. Milyutin) were alienated from the implementation of the Regula- 
tions, the movement in favour of 'representation' became more nearly 
unanimous. It found expression in resolutions moved in many assem- 
blies of nobles in 1862, and in petitions drawn up by the assemblies 
in Novgorod, Tula, Smolensk, Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Tver. 
The most remarkable of these was the Moscow petition, which pleaded 
for local self-government, public trials, obligatory redemption of peas- 
ant lands, publication of budgets, freedom of the press, and the con- 
vening in Moscow of a National Duma representing all classes for the 
purpose of drawing up a complete system of reforms. Sharpest were the 
decisions adopted and the petition drawn up by the nobility of Tver 
on February 2, urging the necessity of introducing a number of civil 
and economic reforms (e.g., equality of rights for all social-estates, 
obligatory redemption of peasant lands) and 'the convocation of 
elected representatives of the whole Russian nation as the only means 
for satisfactorily settling the questions raised, but not settled, in 
the Regulations of February 19'.* 

"Despite the administrative and judicial penalties inflicted on the 
initiators of the Tver petition** — continues Dragomanov — (not for 

* Dragomanov, op. cit. , p. 5. Cited in an abridged form in the 
Memorandum, p. 64, with a reference, not to Dragomanov, but to 
Kolokol, No. 126 and to Revue des deux Mondes, June 15, 1862. 15 
** Incidentally, one of the initiators of this petition, Nikolai 
Alexandrovich Bakunin, a younger brother of the famed M. A. Baku- 
nin, passed away recently (April 19, this year, i.e., 1901) at his estate 
in Tver Gubernia. Nikolai Alexandrovich signed the petition of 
1862, together with his younger brother Alexei and other mediators. 
This petition, relates the author of an item on N. A. Bakunin, published 
in one of our newspapers, called down punishment upon its signa- 
tories. After a year's confinement in the Fortress of Peter and Paul 
the signatories were released, but Nikolai Alexandrovich and his 
brother Alexei were not pardoned (they had not signed the petition 
for pardon) and as a consequence, were prohibited from holding public 
office. After that, N. A. Bakunin never made a public appearance, 
nor could he speak publicly again.... In this manner our govern- 
ment retaliated against the lawful actions of the landed nobility at 
the time of "the great reforms"! And this was in 1862, prior to the 
Polish rebellion, at a time when even Katkov 16 proposed the convo- 
cation of a Zemsky Sobor. [Zemsky Sobor (National Assembly) and 



the petition directly, but for the sharp motivation attached to the col- 
lective resignation of the civil mediators 17 ), declarations in the same 
spirit were made at various assemblies of nobles in 1862 and early 
in 1863, at which projects for local self-government were also drawn up. 

"At this time, a constitutional movement was in progress also 
among the raznochintsi, 18 finding expression there in more or less revolu- 
tionary secret societies and proclamations: Velikoruss (between August 
and November 1861, officers like Obruchev and others took part in its 
publication), Zemskaya Duma (1862), Zemlya i Volya (1862-63).... 
Velikoruss published a draft petition which, as many said, was to have 
been submitted to the tsar during the Thousand Years of Russia 
celebrations in August 1862." The draft petition stated inter alia: 
"May it please Your Majesty to convene in one of the capitals of our 
Russian fatherland, in Moscow or in St. Petersburg, the representatives 
of the Russian nation in order that they may draw up a constitution 
for Russia...."* 

If we recall also the proclamation To Young Russia, 19 the 
numerous arrests and the Draconic punishments inflicted 
upon the "political" criminals (Obruchev, Mikhailov, and 
others), culminating in the frame-up of Chernyshevsky 20 
and his being sentenced illegally to penal servitude, we shall 
have a complete picture of the social situation that gave rise 
to the Zemstvo reform. Witte states only half the truth in 
his Memorandum when he says that "the idea underlying 
the establishment of Zemstvo institutions was undoubtedly 
a political one", that governing circles "undoubtedly took 
into consideration" the liberal and constitutionalist aspira- 
tions of the people. The hidebound official view on social 
phenomena, which the author of the Memorandum reveals 
throughout, is here demonstrated by his ignoring the revo- 
lutionary movement and by his concealing the Draconic meas- 
ures of repression with which the government protected 
itself against the onset of the revolutionary "party". True, 
from our modern viewpoint, it seems strange to speak of 
a revolutionary "party" and of its onset at the beginning of 
the sixties. Forty years of historical experience have made us 
more exacting with regard to what may be called revolution- 
ary movements and revolutionary onsets. But it must not 
be forgotten that at that time, after thirty years of the rule 

National Duma were current in Russian literature of the sixties of 
the past century as terms denoting national representative assem- 
bly. -Tr.] 

* Cf. V. Burtsev, One Hundred Years, p. 39. 


of Nicholas I, no one could have foreseen the course of events, 
no one could have estimated the government's real strength 
of resistance or the real strength of the people's indignation. 
Even the most cautious and sober politician could not but 
acknowledge the possibility of a revolutionary outbreak and 
the serious danger of a peasant revolt — in the obtaining con- 
ditions of the revival of the democratic movement in Europe; 
the ferment in Poland; the discontent in Finland; the demands 
for political reforms made by the entire press and by all 
the nobility; the widespread distribution of Kolokol through- 
out Russia; the powerful appeals of Chernyshevsky, who was 
able, by means even of censored articles, to educate genuine 
revolutionaries; the appearance of proclamations; the ferment 
among the peasants, who were "very often"* compelled by 
armed force and bloodshed to accept the Regulations that 

* L. Panteleyev, "Reminiscences of the Sixties", in the collec- 
tion of essays, At the Glorious Post (p. 315). 21 This minor piece con- 
tains a number of very interesting facts on the revolutionary unrest 
in 1861-62 and on the police reaction.... "Early in 1862 the social 
atmosphere was extremely tense; the slightest incident could have 
given a strong impetus to the course of events in either direction. The 
impetus was given by the great conflagrations that occurred in St. 
Petersburg in May of that year." These fires first broke out on May 16 
and raged with particular fierceness on May 22 and 23— on the latter 
date there were five conflagrations. On May 28, the Apraksin Place 
[a market-place in St. Petersburg named after its owner, Count 
Apraksin. — TV.] caught fire and a wide area surrounding it was laid 
waste. The populace attributed these fires to the students, and the 
rumours were taken up by the newspapers. The manifesto To 
Young Russia, proclaiming a bloody war against the whole existing 
system and justifying every means to this end, was taken to confirm 
the rumours of incendiarism. "After May 28, something in the nature 
of martial law was proclaimed in St. Petersburg." A special committee 
was established with powers to take extraordinary measures for the 
protection of the capital. The city was divided into three zones, each 
under the control of a military governor. A field court martial was set 
up to try those accused of incendiarism. Sovremennik 22 and Russ- 
koye Slovo 2S were suspended for eight months; Dyen, 24 published by 
Aksakov, was suppressed. Stringent temporary press regulations (sanc- 
tioned on May 12, i.e., before the fires broke out; consequently, "the 
progress of events" was towards reaction and was unrelated to the fires, 
the opinion of Mr. Panteleyev notwithstanding) and regulations for 
the surveillance of printing locations were resorted to. Numerous 
political arrests were made (Chernyshevsky and N. Serno-Solovye- 
vich, Rymarenko, and others); Sunday schools and public reading- 
rooms were closed; permits for public lectures in St. Petersburg 



stripped them of everything; the refusal of whole groups of 
civil mediators from among the nobility to apply such Regu- 
lations, and, finally, the student disorders. Under such 
circumstances, the autocratic government, which held it to 
be its lofty mission to protect, at all costs, the omnipotence 
and irresponsibility of the court camarilla and the army of 
official leeches, on the one hand, and to support the worst 
representatives of the exploiting classes, on the other — such 
a government had no other recourse than ruthlessly to exter- 
minate individuals, the conscious and indomitable enemies 
of tyranny and exploitation (i.e., "the ringleaders" of "the 
revolutionary party"), terrify the masses of discontented 
people, and bribe them with small concessions. This meant 
penal servitude for those who preferred to remain silent 
rather than pour forth stupid or hypocritical phrases about 
the "great emancipation"; reforms (innocuous for the autocracy 
and the exploiting classes) for those who waxed enthusiastic 
over the liberalism of the government and the era of 

We do not wish to suggest that these calculated reaction- 
ary police tactics were clearly conceived and systematically 
pursued by all, or even by a few, of the members of the 
ruling clique. Some of them, on account of their narrow- 
mindedness, may not have pondered on the significance of these 
tactics as a whole and may have been childishly enthusiastic 
about "liberalism", failing to observe its police mantling. 
In general, however, there is no doubt that the collective 
experience and collective reasoning of the rulers compelled 
them to pursue these tactics unswervingly. Not in vain did 
most of the grandees and notables undergo a prolonged 
training in bureaucratic and police methods in the service 

became more difficult to obtain; and the second department of the 
Literary Fund 25 and even the Chess Club 26 were closed down. 

The Committee of Inquiry failed to establish any connection be- 
tween the fires and politics. One of its members, Stolbovsky, told Mr. 
Panteleyev that in the Committee "he succeeded in exposing the prin- 
cipal false witnesses who, it seems, were the cat's-paw of police agents" 
(325-26). Thus, there are weighty grounds for believing that the ru- 
mours about student incendiarism were circulated by the police. The 
despicable exploitation of the ignorance of the people for the 
purpose of slandering revolutionaries and protesters was, therefore, 
in full swing at the height of the "epoch of great reforms". 


of Nicholas I, and were, so to speak, case-hardened by fire and 
water. They remembered how sovereigns had at one time flirted 
with liberalism, and at another acted as the executioners of 
the Radishchevs 27 and "let loose" the Arakcheyevs 28 at their 
loyal subjects; they remembered December 14, 1820, 29 and 
they played the role of gendarme of Europe the Russian Gov- 
ernment had played in 1848-49. 30 The historical experience 
of autocracy not only compelled the government to pursue 
tactics of intimidation and corruption, but also compelled 
many independent liberals to recommend these tactics to 
the government. In proof of this, we shall quote the opinions 
of Koshelev and Kavelin. In his pamphlet, Constitution, 
Autocracy, and the National Duma (Leipzig, 1862), A. Koshe- 
lev expresses opposition to a constitution, advocates the con- 
vening of a National Advisory Duma, and anticipates the 
following objection: 

"To convene a National Duma means to lead Russia towards revo- 
lution, i.e., to repeat, in Russia, the Etats generaux, 31 which were sub- 
sequently transformed into the Convention and which came to an end 
with the events of 1792, the proscriptions, the guillotine, the noyades,* 
etc." "No, gentlemen," replied Koshelev, "it will not be the convoca- 
tion of a National Duma that will prepare the ground for revolution, 
as you understand it. Revolution will come much more surely and 
rapidly as a result of the hesitant and contradictory actions of the 
government, one step forward — one step backward, edicts and laws 
impossible of execution, the restraints placed upon thought and speech; 
as a result of the police (open, and what is worse, secret) surveillance 
over the actions of the social-estates and of private persons, the petty 
persecution of certain individuals, the plunder of the Treasury, the 
squandering of public funds and the lavish granting of rewards, the 
incapacity of statesmen and their alienation from Russia, etc., etc. 
A country just awakening from centuries of oppression can be more 
surely driven to revolution (again as you understand it) by military 
executions, solitary confinement, and banishment; for rankling wounds 
are incomparably more sensitive and painful than fresh wounds. But 
have no fear, the revolution, which, as you suppose, was brought 
about in France by journalists and other writers, will not break out in 
Russia. Let us also hope that no society of desperate hotheads, who 
choose assassination as a means of attaining their ends, will be formed 
in Russia (although it is more difficult to vouch for that). What is 
more probable and dangerous is that, influenced by the split and unob- 
served by the rural, urban, and secret police, an alliance will be estab- 
lished between the peasants and the petty-bourgeois townspeople, 

Mass executions, by drowning. — Ed. 



which will be joined by young and old, writers and adherents of Veliko- 
russ, Young Russia, etc. Such an all-destructive alliance, advocating 
equality, not before, but despite, the law (What matchless liberalism! 
We, of course, are in favour of equality, but not of equality despite 
the law — the law which destroys equality!), not the popular, histori- 
cal village commune, but its morbid progeny, and not the rule of reas- 
on, which certain office-holders fear so much, but the rule of brute 
force, which these office-holders so readily employ — such an alliance, 
I say, is far more probable in Russia and may be far more powerful 
than the moderate, well-meaning, and independent opposition to the 
government which our bureaucrats abhor so much and which they 
try so hard to restrict and suppress. Do not imagine that the party 
or the inner, secret, and anonymous press is small and weak, do not 
imagine that you have plucked it out root and branch. No! By prevent- 
ing the youth from completing their education, by treating youthful 
pranks as if they were political crimes, by petty persecution and police 
surveillance you have increased the strength of that party tenfold, and 
have multiplied it and spread it throughout the Empire. What will 
our statesmen resort to in the face of an outbreak resulting from such 
an alliance? Armed force? But will that be absolutely reliable?" 
(pp. 49-51). 

Do not the pompous phrases of this tirade obviously suggest 
the tactics: destroy the "hotheads" and the adherents of 
the "alliance between the peasants and the petty-bourgeois 
townspeople"; satisfy and disunite the "well-meaning and 
moderate opposition" through concessions? But the gov- 
ernment proved to be cleverer and more agile than the 
Koshelevs imagined; it conceded much less than a National 
"Advisory" Duma. 

And the following from a private letter written by K. D. 
Ravelin to Herzen, 32 dated August 6, 1862: "... The news 
from Russia is not so bad, in my opinion. It was not Nicholas 
Solovyevich that was arrested, but Alexander. The arrests 
do not surprise me and, I confess, do not seem to me outra- 
geous. A revolutionary party considers every means to over- 
throw the government justified, while the government 
defends itself by every means at its disposal. Arrests and 
banishment under the reign of the despicable Nicholas were 
quite another thing. People then died for their ideas, their 
convictions, their faith, and their utterances. I would like 
to see you in the government's boots and see what you would 
do against a party that is secretly and openly working 
against you. I like Chernyshevsky very, very much, but never 
in my life have I seen such a brouillon [an irascible, unso- 


ciable bully, a sower of discord],* such a tactless and cock- 
sure fellow! To perish in vain, for absolutely no reason at 
all! There cannot be the least doubt now that the conflagra- 
tions have a connection with the leaflets."** What an exam- 
ple of servile-professorial profundity! It is the revolutionaries 
who are to blame for everything; it is they who are conceited 
enough to hiss at phrase-mongering liberals, they who are so 
impudent as to work secretly and openly against the govern- 
ment and so tactless as to get themselves incarcerated in the 
Fortress of Peter and Paul. He, too, the liberal professor, 
would punish people like these "with all the means at his 
disposal", were he in power. 


Thus, the Zemstvo reform was one of the concessions 
forced from the autocratic government by public ferment and 
revolutionary pressure. We have dealt with the character of 
this pressure in detail in order to supplement and correct the 
picture outlined in the Memorandum by its bureaucratic 
author, who obscured the struggle that had given rise to this 
concession. Nevertheless, the half-hearted and pusillanimous 
character of this concession is quite clearly described in 
the Memorandum: 

"At first, when the Zemstvo reform was just being undertaken, it 
was no doubt intended as a first step toward the introduction of repre- 
sentative institutions***, but later, when Count Lanskoi and N. A. Mi- 
lyutin were replaced by Count Valuyev, there was an obvious desire, 
as even the ex-Minister of the Interior admits, to act in a spirit of 
'conciliation', 'softly and evasively'. 'The government has no clear 

* Interpolations in square brackets (within passages quoted 
by Lenin) have been introduced by Lenin, unless otherwise indicat- 
ed.— Tr. 

**We quote from the German translation of Dragomanov's edi- 
tion of the correspondence of K. D. Ravelin and I. S. Turgenev with 
A. I. Herzen: Bibliothek russischer Denkwiirdigkeiten, herausgegeben 
von Th. Schiemann, Stuttgart, 1894, Bd. 4, S. 65-66. 

*** There is "no doubt" that the author of the Memorandum, in 
employing the language of Leroy-Beaulieu, commits the usual bureau- 
cratic exaggeration. There is "no doubt" that neither Lanskoi nor 
Milyutin had anything very definite in mind, and it is ridiculous to 
regard the evasive phrases of Milyutin ("in principle in favour of the 
Constitution, but regards its introduction as premature") as a "first step". 



idea of its aims,' he said at the time. In short, an attempt was made — 
unfortunately made so often by statesmen and always with bad results 
for everyone — to act evasively between two opposite opinions, to 
satisfy liberal aspirations and preserve the existing system." 

The pharisaical word "unfortunately" is highly amusing. 
A minister of the police government describes as casual 
the tactics which the government could not but pursue and 
did pursue in adopting the factory inspection laws, as well 
as the law on the reduction of the working day (June 2, 1897), 
and which it is now (1901) pursuing in General Vannovsky's 
flirtation with the "public". 33 

"On the one hand, it was stated in the explanatory Memorandum 
attached to the regulations governing Zemstvo institutions that the 
purpose of the proposed law was to develop as completely and as 
consistently as possible the principle of local self-government, and that 
'the Zemstvo administration is merely a special organ of one and the 
same state authority'.... Severnaya Pochta, then the organ of the 
Ministry of the Interior, hinted broadly that the institutions to be 
established were to serve as schools for representative bodies. 

"On the other hand, ... the Zemstvo institutions are described in the 
explanatory Memorandum as private and as public institutions, sub- 
ject to the general laws in the same way as individual societies and 
private persons are subject.... 

"Both the provisions in the Regulations of 1864 and, in particular, 
all the subsequent measures adopted by the Ministry of the Interior in 
relation to the Zemstvo institutions clearly indicate that the 'independ- 
ence' of the Zemstvo institutions was seen as a great danger, and that 
the government was afraid to permit the proper development of these 
institutions, being fully aware of what that would lead to. [Our italics 
throughout.] ... There is no doubt that those who had to carry out the 
Zemstvo reform did so merely as a concession to public opinion, in order 
as the explanatory Memorandum stated, 'to limit the unrealisable 
expectations and radical aspirations which have been aroused among 
the various social-estates in connection with the establishment of the 
Zemstvo institutions'; at the same time, these people fully understood 
it [the reform?] and strove to prevent the proper development of the 
Zemstvo, to give it a private character, restrict its powers, etc. While 
pacifying the liberals with the promise that the first step would not be 
the last and declaring, or, to be more precise, echoing the adherents 
of the liberal trend, that it was necessary to grant the Zemstvo insti- 
tutions real and independent powers, Count Valuyev, in the very act 
of drafting the Regulations of 1864, strove in every way to restrict the 
powers of those institutions and place them under strict administrative 

"Bereft of a single guiding idea, representing a compromise between 
two opposite trends, the Zemstvo institutions, in the form in which 
they were established by the Regulations of 1864, proved in practice 


to be out of accord with the fundamental idea of local self-government 
on which they were based, as well as with the administrative system 
into which they were mechanically inserted and which, moreover, 
had neither been reformed nor adapted to the new conditions of life. 
The Regulations of 1864 sought to reconcile the irreconcilable and in 
that way to satisfy both the advocates and opponents of Zemstvo self- 
government. The former were offered superficialities and hopes for 
the future, while in order to satisfy the latter the powers of the Zemstvo 
institutions were given an extremely elastic definition." 

What pointed words our ministers sometimes accidentally 
let drop when they desire to put a spoke in the wheel of one 
of their colleagues and to display their profundity, and how 
useful it would be for every one of our self-complacent 
Russians and all admirers of the "great" reforms to hang on 
their walls in golden frames the wise police maxims: "Pacify 
the liberals with the promise that the first step will not 
be the last", "offer" them "superficialities and hopes for the 
future"! It would be particularly useful at the present time 
to refer to these precepts when reading in articles or other 
items in newspapers about General Vannovsky's "heartfelt 

Thus, from the very beginning, the Zemstvo was doomed 
to serve as a fifth wheel to the wagon of Russian state 
administration, a wheel tolerated by the bureaucracy only 
insofar as it would not disturb its absolute authority, while 
the role of the representatives of the population was restrict- 
ed to the simple technical fulfilment of the functions outlined 
by this very bureaucracy. The Zemstvos had no executive 
organs of their own, they had to act through the police, they 
had no contact with one another, and they were immediately 
placed under the control of the administration. Having made 
such a harmless concession, the government, on the very day 
after the establishment of the Zemstvos, began systematical- 
ly to impose restrictions upon them; the almighty bureaucratic 
clique could not reconcile itself to the elected representation 
of the social-estates and began to persecute it in every pos- 
sible way. A very interesting part of the Memorandum is the 
summary of facts on this persecution, notwithstanding its 
obvious incompleteness. 

We have seen how pusillanimous and irrational was the 
attitude of the liberals towards the revolutionary movement 
at the beginning of the sixties. Instead of supporting the 



"alliance of the petty-bourgeois townspeople and the peasants 
with the adherents of Velikoruss" , they feared this "alliance" 
and held it up as a bogy with which to scare the government. 
Instead of rising to the defence of the leaders of the democratic 
movement, persecuted by the government, they pharisai- 
cally washed their hands of them and justified the action of 
the government. This treacherous policy of grandiloquence 
and shameful flabbiness met with poetic justice. Having 
dealt with those who proved themselves capable, not merely 
of jabbering about liberty, but of fighting for it, the govern- 
ment felt sufficiently strong to squeeze the liberals out of 
even the minor and inferior positions which they had occu- 
pied "with the permission of the authorities". So long as the 
"alliance of the petty-bourgeois townspeople and the peasants" 
with the revolutionaries represented a serious menace, the 
Ministry of the Interior itself mumbled words about a "school 
of representative institutions", but when the "tactless and 
cock-sure" hecklers and hotheads had been removed, the 
"scholars" were treated with an iron hand. Then a tragicom- 
ical epic began. The Zemstvo appealed for an extension 
of its rights, but was deprived of one right after another and 
given "fatherly" homilies in answer to its petitions. But let 
the historical dates, even those presented in the Memoran- 
dum, speak for themselves. 

On October 12, 1866, the Ministry of the Interior issued 
a circular subordinating the Zemstvo employees completely to 
government institutions. On November 21 a law was passed 
restricting the right of the Zemstvo in taxing commercial 
and industrial establishments. The St. Petersburg Zemstvo 
Assembly, in 1867, sharply criticised this law, and (on 
the proposal of Count A. P. Shuvalov) adopted a decision 
to petition the government to arrange for the questions 
touched upon by this law to be discussed by "the combined 
forces and with the simultaneous efforts of the central admini- 
stration and the Zemstvo". The government's answer to 
this petition was to close down the St. Petersburg Zemstvo 
institutions and to resort to reprisals: the chairman of the 
St. Petersburg Zemstvo Board, Kruse, was banished to Oren- 
burg; Count Shuvalov — to Paris; and Senator Luboshchin- 
sky was ordered to resign. Severnaya Pochta, organ of the 
Ministry of the Interior, published an article in which "these 


stern measures of punishment were explained by the fact 
that the Zemstvo Assemblies, too, from the very opening 
of their sessions, had acted contrary to the law [to what law? 
and why were the law-breakers not brought to trial, when only 
shortly before a speedy, just, and merciful court procedure 
had been introduced?]; that instead of supporting the Zem- 
stvo Assemblies of other gubernias, utilising for that purpose 
the rights which His Majesty has graciously granted them 
for exercising proper care over the local economic interests 
of the Zemstvo in their charge [i.e., instead of being humbly 
submissive and following the "intentions" of the officialdom], 
they strove continuously, by falsely explaining the case and 
misinterpreting the laws, to rouse sentiments of mistrust 
and lack of respect for the government" . After such an admoni- 
tion, it is not surprising that "the other Zemstvos failed to 
support the St. Petersburg Zemstvo, although the law of 
November 21, 1866, had everywhere given rise to deep-going 
discontent, so that at meetings many people declared it to 
be tantamount to destroying the Zemstvos". 

On December 16, 1866, the Senate issued a "clarification" 
granting the governors of the gubernias the right to refuse 
endorsement to any person elected by a Zemstvo Assembly 
whom the respective governor deemed politically unrelia- 
ble. On May 4, 1867, there followed another Senate interpre- 
tation to the effect that communication of Zemstvo propos- 
als to other gubernias was contrary to law, since Zemstvo 
institutions must concern themselves only with local affairs. 
On June 13 the Council of State issued a ruling, with Impe- 
rial sanction, prohibiting publication of decisions, minutes, 
reports of discussions, etc., of the meetings of Zemstvo, urban, 
and social-estate assemblies without the consent of the 
gubernia authorities. Further, that law extended the powers 
of chairmen of Zemstvo Assemblies; it granted them the 
right to close meetings at their discretion and imposed upon 
them the obligation, under threat of punishment, to close 
any meeting at which questions not in consonance with the 
law were presented for discussion. The public greeted this 
measure with hostility, regarding it as a serious restric- 
tion of Zemstvo activity. "Every one knows," Nikitenko 
entered in his diary, "that the Zemstvos are tied hand and 
foot by the new regulations which give the chairmen of 



Assemblies and the governors of gubernias almost unlimited 
powers over them." The circular of October 8, 1868 makes 
it obligatory to obtain the consent of the governor for 
the publication even of the reports of the Zemstvo Boards 
and restricts inter-communication between Zemstvos. In 
1869 the office of inspector of elementary schools was estab- 
lished for the purpose of taking the effective management of 
elementary education out of the hands of the Zemstvos. 
A regulation issued by the Committee of Ministers on Sep- 
tember 19, 1869, which received Imperial sanction, declares 
that "neither in their composition nor in their fundamental 
principles are Zemstvo institutions governmental authori- 
ties". The law of July 4 and the circular of October 22, 1870 
confirm and increase the subordination of Zemstvo employ- 
ees to the governors of the gubernias. In 1871 instructions 
were issued to the inspectors of elementary schools empow- 
ering them to dismiss teachers who were deemed politically 
unreliable and to suspend all decisions of the school coun- 
cils and submit them to the school guardians for their 
sanction. On December 25, 1873, Alexander II, in a rescript 
addressed to the Minister of Education, expressed the fear 
that unless proper guardianship and control are exercised 
over them, the elementary schools may be converted "into 
an instrument for the moral corruption of the people, some 
attempts at which have already been disclosed," and he ordered 
the marshals of the nobility, by their close co-operation, to 
preserve the moral influence of the schools. In 1874 a new reg- 
ulation concerning the elementary schools was issued, which 
placed the management of the schools entirely in the hands 
of the head masters. The Zemstvo "protested" — if a petition 
pleading that the law be revised and that the representatives 
of the Zemstvo take part in this revision (the petition of the 
Kazan Zemstvo in 1874) can, without irony, be described as 
a protest. Of course, the petition was rejected. Etc., etc. 


Such was the first course of lessons given to Russian cit- 
izens in the "school of representative institutions" opened 
by the Ministry of the Interior. Fortunately, in addition to 
the political scholars who, in connection with the constitu- 


tional declarations of the sixties, wrote that "it is time to 
give up all nonsense and get down to business, and business 
is now in the Zemstvo institutions and nowhere else",* there 
were in Russia also "hotheads", who were not satisfied 
with such "tact" and went with revolutionary propaganda 
among the people. Although they adhered to a theory which 
in essence was not revolutionary, their propaganda roused 
a spirit of discontent and protest among broad strata of the 
educated youth. Despite their Utopian theory, which rejected 
political struggle, the movement led to a desperate grapple 
between the government and a handful of heroes, to a strug- 
gle for political freedom. Thanks to this struggle, and to it 
alone, the situation again changed; the government was 
once more compelled to make concessions, and the liberals 
once again revealed their political immaturity, their inability 
to support the fighters and bring real pressure to bear upon 
the government. The constitutional aspirations of the Zemst- 
vo became very marked, but these proved to be but a feeble 
"impulse", despite the fact that Zemstvo liberalism in itself 
had made decided political progress. Particularly noteworthy 
was its attempt to establish an illegal party and to set up 
its own political organ. In his Memorandum, Witte summa- 
rises some of these illegal writings (of Cannan, Dragomanov, 
Tikhomirov), in order to demonstrate the "slippery path" 
(p. 98) upon which the Zemstvo had entered. In the late sev- 
enties, several congresses of Zemstvo liberals were held. 
The liberals decided "to take measures to bring about at 
least a temporary cessation of the destructive activities of the 
extreme revolutionary party, for they were convinced that 
nothing could be achieved by peaceful means if the terror- 
ists continued to irritate and alarm the government by threats 
and acts of violence" (p. 99). Thus, instead of making an 
effort to extend the struggle, to secure considerable public 
support for individual revolutionaries, to organise some sort 
of public pressure (in the form of demonstrations, of refusal 
by the Zemstvo to carry out compulsory expenditures, etc.), 
the liberals again appealed for "tact" — "not to irritate" 

*A letter written by Ravelin to relatives in 1865, in which he 
refers to the petition of the Moscow nobility for "the convocation of 
a general assembly of representatives of the land of Russia to discuss 
needs common to the whole state". 



the government! — to employ the "peaceful means" that had 
so brilliantly proved their futility in the sixties!* Of course, 
the revolutionaries refused to agree to any cessation or sus- 
pension of fighting actions. The Zemstvo supporters then 
formed the League of Oppositional Elements, which was later 
transformed into the Zemstvo Union and Self-Government 
Society, or Zemstvo Union. The programme of the Zemstvo 
Union contained the following demands: (1) freedom of 
speech and the press, (2) inviolability of the person, and (3) 
the convocation of a Constituent Assembly. An attempt to 
publish illegal pamphlets in Galicia failed (the Austrian po- 
lice seized the manuscripts and the persons who intended to 
print them), and in August 1881 Volnoye Slovo, u edited in 
Geneva by Dragomanov (ex-professor of Kiev University), 
became the official organ of the Zemstvo Union. "In the final 
analysis," wrote Dragomanov in 1888, "the attempt to pub- 
lish Volnoye Slovo as a Zemstvo organ cannot be regarded as 
successful, if only for the reason that Zemstvo material did 
not begin to reach the editorial office regularly until late in 
1882 and publication ceased in May 1883" (op. cit., p. 40). 
The failure of the liberal organ was a natural effect of the 
weakness of the liberal movement. On November 20, 1878, 
Alexander II delivered a speech at a meeting of representa- 
tives of the social-estates in Moscow, in which he expressed 
the hope that "he would obtain their co-operation in check- 
ing the erring younger generation which was pursuing the 
fatal path whither suspect persons were striving to lead it." 
Later, an appeal for public co-operation appeared in Pra- 
vitelstvenny Vestnik 35 (No. 186, 1878). In reply, five Zemstvo 
Assemblies (Kharkov, Poltava, Chernigov, Samara, and 
Tver) issued declarations urging the need to convene a 
National Assembly. "We may believe also," says Witte in 
his Memorandum, after summarising in detail the contents 

* Dragomanov said in all justice: "As a matter of fact, liberalism 
in Russia cannot employ absolutely 'peaceful means', because every 
declaration in favour of changing the higher administration is pro- 
hibited by law. The Zemstvo liberals should have stepped resolutely 
over the bounds of this prohibition, and in this way at least have 
demonstrated their strength to both the government and the terror- 
ists. As the Zemstvo liberals did not demonstrate this strength, they 
lived to see the day when the government revealed its intention to 
destroy the already truncated Zemstvo institutions" (ibid., pp. 41-42). 


of these petitions, of which only three appeared in the press 
in full, "that the Zemstvo declarations on the convocation 
of a National Assembly would have been far more numerous, 
had not the Ministry of the Interior taken timely steps to 
prevent such declarations; the marshals of the nobility, as 
chairmen of gubernia Zemstvo Assemblies, received circular 
letters instructing them to prevent even the reading of such 
petitions at meetings of the assemblies. In some places, 
arrests were made and councillors banished. In Chernigov 
the meeting hall was invaded and forcibly cleared by gen- 
darmes" (p. 104). 

The liberal magazines and newspapers supported the mov- 
ement. A petition signed by "twenty-five prominent Moscow 
citizens" addressed to Loris-Melikov asked for the convoca- 
tion of an independent assembly of representatives of the 
Zemstvos which should be given the right to participate in 
the government of the nation. In appointing Loris-Melikov 
Minister of the Interior, the government was apparently 
making a concession. But only apparently; for not only were 
no decisive steps taken, there were not even any declarations 
that might be called positive and incapable of misinterpre- 
tation. Loris-Melikov called together the editors of St. Pe- 
tersburg periodicals and explained to them "the programme": 
to learn the wishes, needs, etc., of the population, to enable 
the Zemstvos, etc., to enjoy their legal rights (the liberal 
programme guarantees the Zemstvos those "rights" of which 
the law systematically deprives them!), etc. The author of 
the Memorandum states: 

"Through the medium of these interlocutors the Minis- 
ter's programme was circulated throughout Russia — for which 
purpose they had been called together. In point of fact, the 
programme did not promise anything definite. One could 
read into it anything one desired, i.e., everything or noth- 
ing. A leaflet secretly distributed at the time was right in 
its way [only in "its" way, not absolutely in "every" way!] 
when it stated that the programme simultaneously wagged 
a 'fox tail' and gnashed 'wolf's fangs'. This attack on the 
programme and its author is the more understandable, be- 
cause, in communicating the programme to the representa- 
tives of the press, the Count strongly urged them 'not to con- 
fuse and not to excite the public mind needlessly with their 



visionary illusions'." But the liberal Zemstvo supporters 
refused to listen to the truth contained in the secret leaflet 
and accepted the wagging of the "fox tail" as a "new policy" 
worthy of confidence. "The Zemstvos believed and sympa- 
thised with the government," says the Memorandum, quoting 
an illegally published pamphlet, The Opinions of the Zemstvo 
Assemblies on the Present State of Russia, "and they seemed 
afraid of running too far ahead and of pestering the govern- 
ment with excessive requests." A characteristic admission 
on the part of the Zemstvo adherents, who enjoyed freedom 
of expression! The Zemstvo Union at its congress in 1880 had 
only just decided "to strive to secure central popular repre- 
sentation, of which an absolute condition would be a single 
chamber and universal suffrage", when this decision to strive 
to secure was carried out by the tactic of refraining from 
"running too far ahead" and "believing and sympathising 
with" ambiguous declarations that bind no one to anything! 
With unpardonable naivete, the Zemstvo adherents imagined 
that presenting petitions meant "striving to secure" — and 
petitions "poured in from the Zemstvos in abundance". On 
January 28, 1881, Loris-Melikov submitted a most humble 
Memorial to the tsar proposing the establishment of a 
commission of Zemstvo representatives with advisory powers 
only, for the purpose of drafting the laws His Majesty would 
be pleased to indicate. The Special Council set up by Alex- 
ander II approved of this measure; the findings of the Coun- 
cil of February 17, 1881, were confirmed by the Tsar, who 
also approved the text of the government announcement 
submitted by Loris-Melikov. 

"Undoubtedly," writes Witte, "the establishment of such 
a purely advisory commission did not yet establish a consti- 
tution," but, he continues, it can hardly be denied that it 
represented a step forward (following the reforms of the six- 
ties) towards a constitution and towards nothing else. The 
author then repeats a statement contained in the foreign 
press to the effect that upon reading Loris-Melikov' s Memo- 
rial, Alexander II exclaimed: "Why, this is the Etats gene- 
raux.... What is proposed to us is neither more nor less 
than the Assembly of Notables of Louis XVI." 36 

We would observe, on our part, that under certain cir- 
cumstances the application of Loris-Melikov's proposal 


might have been a step towards a constitution, but it might 
also not have been; everything depended on which prevailed 
— the pressure of the revolutionary party and the liberal 
public, or the counter-pressure of the very powerful, compact 
party of persisting supporters of the autocracy that were 
unscrupulous in the methods they employed. If, however, 
we speak, not of what might have happened, but of what 
actually did happen, then we must admit the indubitable 
fact that the government was wavering. Some members 
of the government were in favour of strenuously resisting the 
liberals, while others were in favour of making concessions. 
But — and this is particularly important — even the latter 
wavered, having no very definite programme and never 
rising above the level of scheming bureaucrats. 
In his Memorandum, Witte writes: 

"Count Loris-Melikov appeared to be afraid to look the affair 
straight in the face and to define his programme with precision; he 
continued the evasive policy — in another direction, it is true — that 
had been adopted by Count Valuyev towards the Zemstvo institutions. 

"As even the legal press rightly pointed out at the time, the pro- 
gramme announced by Loris-Melikov was distinguished by its extreme 
vagueness. This vagueness is observed in all the Count's subsequent 
actions and pronouncements. On the one hand, he declared that the 
autocracy was 'separated from the people', that 'he looks to public sup- 
port as the principal force...', and that he regarded the proposed reform 
'not as something final, but merely as a first step', etc. On the other 
hand, the Count declared at the same time to the press representatives 
that 'the hopes aroused among the people are nothing but a visionary 
illusion...', and in his most humble Memorial to the Tsar, he stated cate- 
gorically that a National Assembly would be 'a dangerous experiment 
of reverting to the past...', that the measure he proposed would not 
in any way restrict the powers of the autocracy, since it had nothing 
in common with Western constitutional forms. Generally speaking, as 
L. Tikhomirov has fitly remarked, the Memorial itself is distinguished 
by its wonderfully confused wording" (p. 117). 

In his attitude towards the freedom fighters Loris-Melikov, 
that notorious hero of the "dictatorship of the heart", 37 
displayed "a cruelty unparalleled, before or since, in 
ordering the execution of a seventeen year-old youth for 
a printed leaflet found in his possession. Loris-Melikov 
did not forget the most remote parts of Siberia, and 
he did everything to worsen the conditions of the exiles 
suffering for their propaganda" (V. Zasulich in Sotsial- 



Demokrat, 38 No. 1, p. 84). In view of the government's 
wavering, only a force capable of earnest struggle could 
have secured a constitution; but such a force was lacking — 
the revolutionaries had exhausted themselves by their effort 
of March l 39 ; there was neither a broad movement nor a 
strong organisation of the working class, and the liberal 
public on this occasion again proved to be so politically 
immature that even after the assassination of Alexander II 
it restricted itself to the mere presentation of petitions. The 
Zemstvos, the municipalities, and the liberal press (Porya- 
dok, Strana, Golos*), all presented petitions. Particularly 
loyal, artful, and nebulous were the petitions of the liberal 
authors of memoranda, such as the Marquis of Velepolski, 
Professor Chicherin, and Professor Gradovsky. Witte's Memo- 
randum reproduces their content from a pamphlet published 
in London,** The Constitution of Count Loris-Melikov (Free 
Russian Press Fund, London, 1893). Those authors invented 
ingenious devices for bringing the monarch to cross the 
Rubicon without his being aware of it". It stands to reason 
that all these cautious petitions and artful devices proved 
utterly useless without a revolutionary force, and the auto- 
cratic party triumphed — triumphed despite the fact that on 
March 8, 1881, a majority of the Council of Ministers (seven 
against five) had voted in favour of Loris-Melikov's pro- 
posal. (So the pamphlet has it; but Witte, who assiduously 
cites its authors, for some reason or other declares in his 
Memorandum: "It is not authentically known what happened 
at this meeting of March 8 and what it resulted in; it would 
be rash to rely upon the rumours that have reached the for- 
eign press," p. 124). On April 29, 1881, the Manifesto on the 
reaffirmation and preservation of autocracy, described by 
Katkov as "manna from heaven", was promulgated. 

* Poryadok (Order); Strana (The Country); Golos (The Voice).— 


**As we have seen, the author of the Memorandum most care- 
fully copies from illegal pamphlets and admits that "the underground 
press and the literary works published abroad quite correctly 
judged the position on this question from their point of view" (p. 91). 
The only thing original produced by this learned Russian "political- 
scientist" is a certain amount of raw material; he has had to borrow 
all the fundamental points of view regarding political questions in 
Russia from underground literature. 


For the second time since the emancipation of the peas- 
ants the revolutionary tide was swept back, and following 
it and as a consequence of it, the liberal movement for 
a second time gave way to reaction, over which Russian pro- 
gressive society, of course, raised bitter lamentations. We are 
past masters of the art of lamentation; we lament the tact- 
lessness and self-assurance of revolutionaries in harassing 
the government; we lament the government's indecisiveness 
when, finding that it is not confronted by a real force, it 
makes pseudo-concessions and takes back with one hand what 
it has given with the other; we lament "the age without ideas 
and ideals", when the government, having settled scores with 
revolutionaries whom the people failed to support, hastens 
to make up for lost time and fortifies itself for a fresh 


The epoch of the "dictatorship of the heart", as Loris-Me- 
likov's ministry has been described, proved to our liberals 
that even the "constitutionalism" of one of the ministers, 
even of the Prime Minister, with the government wavering 
and the Council of Ministers approving "the first step towards 
reform" by a majority, still guarantees precisely nothing, 
if there is no serious social force capable of compelling the 
government to surrender. It is interesting to note also that 
the government of Alexander III did not show its fangs im- 
mediately upon the promulgation of the Manifesto reaffirm- 
ing the autocracy, but found it necessary for a time to fool 
the "public". In employing the term "fool" the public, we 
do not suggest that the government adopted the Machiavel- 
lian scheme of some minister, notable, or other. It cannot be 
over-emphasised that the system of pseudo-concessions and 
of seemingly important steps "to meet" public opinion has 
become an integral part of the policy of every modern govern- 
ment, including the Russian, for the Russian Government 
has for many generations recognised the necessity of reckon- 
ing with public opinion in one way or another, and in the 
course of many generations has trained statesmen in the 
shrewd art of domestic diplomacy. Such a diplomat was 
Count Ignatyev, whose appointment to the Ministry of the 
Interior in place of Loris-Melikov was intended to cover the 



government's retreat towards out and out reaction. More 
than once Ignatyev proved himself a demagogue and deceiver 
of the worst type, so much so that Witte reveals in his Mem- 
orandum not a little "police complacency" when he de- 
scribes the period of his office as an "unsuccessful attempt to 
create a country with local self-government and with an 
autocratic tsar at its head". True, this is precisely the "for- 
mula" advanced at the time by I. S. Aksakov; it was util- 
ised by the government for its manoeuvres and was assailed 
by Katkov, who proved conclusively that there is a necessary 
connection between local self-government and a constitution. 
But it would be short-sighted to attempt to explain the well- 
known tactics of the police government (tactics deriving from 
its very nature) by the prevalence of this or that political 
view at the given moment. 

Ignatyev issued a circular, in which he promised that 
the government would "take urgent measures to introduce 
proper methods to secure, with the maximum of success, the 
active participation of local public figures in the execution 
of His Majesty's designs". The Zemstvos responded to this 
"call" by petitions pleading for the convocation of an assem- 
bly "of the elected representatives of the people" (from the 
memorandum of a member of the Cherepovets Zemstvo; the 
governor did not even permit the opinion of a member of the 
Kirillov Zemstvo to be published). The government instruc- 
ted the governors to "take no further action" with regard 
to these petitions; "at the same time, measures were apparent- 
ly taken to prevent other assemblies from submitting simi- 
lar petitions". The notorious attempt was made to call 
a conference of "qualified people" hand-picked by the minis- 
ters (for the purpose of discussing questions of reducing land 
redemption payments, 40 regulating migration, reforming 
local government, etc.). "The work of the committees of 
experts evoked no sympathy among the public and, not- 
withstanding all the precautionary measures, even aroused 
a direct protest from the Zemstvos. Twelve Zemstvo Assem- 
blies petitioned that Zemstvo representatives be invited to 
participate in legislative activity, not only on special oc- 
casions and by appointment from the government, but per- 
manently and by election from the Zemstvos." An attempt 
by the Samara Zemstvo to adopt a similar motion was pre- 


vented by the chairman, "after which the Assembly broke 
up in protest" (Dragomanov, op. cit., p. 29; Memorandum, 
p. 131). That Count Ignatyev duped the Zemstvos is appar- 
ent from the following fact: "Mr. Ustimovich, Marshal of 
the Poltava Nobility and author of the draft Constitutional 
Petition of 1879, openly declared in the Gubernia Assembly 
of Nobles that he had received positive assurances [sicl] 
from Count Ignatyev that the government would call upon 
the representatives of the country to take part in legisla- 
tive activity" (Dragomanov, ibid.). 

These frauds of Ignatyev crowned the work of covering 
up the government's transition to a decisively new policy, 
and not without good reason did D. A. Tolstoi, who on May 
30, 1882, was appointed Minister of the Interior, earn the 
nickname "Minister of Struggle". Petitions from the Zem- 
stvos even for the convening of some sort of private con- 
ferences were unceremoniously rejected. There was even a 
case of a government commission replacing a Zemstvo Board 
and banishing its members, on a complaint lodged by a gov- 
ernor against "the systematic opposition" of the Zemstvo 
(of Cherepovets). D. A. Tolstoi, a faithful disciple and fol- 
lower of Katkov, went further and decided to "reform" the 
Zemstvo institutions. The idea underlying the reform (which, 
as we have seen, was confirmed by history) was that "the 
opposition to the government has strongly entrenched itself 
in the Zemstvos" (p. 139 of the Memorandum, dealing with 
the original plan for Zemstvo reform). D. A. Tolstoi planned 
to replace the Zemstvo Boards with bureaus subordinated to 
the governor and to make all decisions of the Zemstvo As- 
semblies subject to the governor's sanction. This would have 
been a truly "radical" reform; but it is extremely interesting 
to note that even this disciple of Katkov, this "Minister of 
Struggle", in the words of the Memorandum, "did not abandon 
the usual policy of the Ministry of the Interior towards the 
Zemstvo institutions. In the draft of his project, Tolstoi 
did not openly express his idea, actually to abolish the Zemst- 
vos; on the pretext of correctly developing the principle 
of local self-government, he sought to preserve their 
external form, but, at the same time, deprive them of all 
internal substance". This cunning policy of "the fox tail" 
was still further supplemented and developed in the 



Council of State, with the result that the Zemstvo Regula- 
tions of 1890 "proved to be another half-measure in the history 
of Zemstvo institutions. They did not abolish the Zemstvos, 
but rendered them featureless and colourless; they did not 
destroy their character as being representative of all social- 
estates, but they gave them a social-estate tinge; ... they did 
not convert the Zemstvo institutions into regular organs of 
the state, ... but increased the power of the governors over 
them ... and increased the governor's power of veto". "The 
Regulations of July 12, 1890, were, in keeping with their 
author's design, a step in the direction of abolishing the 
Zemstvo institutions, not a radical reform of Zemstvo local 

The Memorandum goes on to state that this new "half- 
measure" did not remove the opposition to the government 
(it was, of course, impossible to remove the opposition to 
a reactionary government by intensifying that reaction), 
but merely drove certain of its manifestations below the 
surface. The opposition manifested itself, first, in the fact 
that certain anti-Zemstvo laws — if one may so term them — 
met with resistance and were not carried out de facto; it 
manifested itself, again, in constitutional (or, at all events, 
constitution-flavoured) petitions. Thus, the law of June 10, 
1893, which tied up the Zemstvo medical service in a tangle 
of detailed regulations, met with the first-mentioned type 
of opposition. "The Zemstvo institutions put up a strenuous 
resistance to the Ministry of the Interior, which had to make 
a retreat. The Ministry was compelled to suspend the intro- 
duction of new regulations, already drafted, to reserve them 
for a complete collection of the laws, and to draft a fresh 
proposal on altogether different principles [i.e., principles 
more acceptable to the Zemstvos]." The Assessment of Real 
Estate Act of June 8, 1893, which similarly introduced the 
principle of regulation and restricted the rights of the Zem- 
stvos in the assessment of rates, likewise gave rise to dissat- 
isfaction, and in many cases "is not being applied in practice". 
The medical and statistical institutions established by 
the Zemstvos, which have brought considerable benefit to 
the population (as compared with the bureaucracy, of course), 
proved themselves of sufficient strength to paralyse the 
regulations drawn up in the chancelleries of St. Petersburg. 


The second form of opposition also found expression in 
the new Zemstvo, in 1894, when the Zemstvo petitions to 
Nicholas II renewed very definitely their demand for the 
extension of local self-government and gave rise to the 
"celebrated" words about senseless dreaming. 

To the horror of the ministers, the "political tendencies" 
of the Zemstvos did not disappear. The author of the Memo- 
randum cites the bitter complaints of the Governor of Tver 
(from his report of 1898) over the "closely knit group of peo- 
ple of liberal views" which had concentrated the affairs of 
the gubernia Zemstvo entirely in its own hands. "From the 
same governor's report for 1895, it is apparent that the strug- 
gle against the Zemstvo opposition presents a difficult task 
for the local administration and that the marshals of the 
nobility, who officiate as chairmen at Zemstvo meetings, 
are sometimes called upon to display 'civic courage' [sic\] 
in carrying out the instructions contained in the confiden- 
tial circulars of the Ministry of the Interior on matters in 
which the Zemstvo institutions must not interfere." It is 
further related how, at one of the meetings of the assembly, 
the gubernia Marshal of the Nobility turned over his post 
as chairman to the uyezd* Marshal (Tver), how the Tver 
Marshal in his turn passed it on to the Novy Torzhok Mar- 
shal, and how the Novy Torzhok Marshal also fell ill and 
handed over the post to the Staritsa Marshal. And so, even 
the marshals of the nobility flinch from carrying out police 
functions! "The law of 1890 [laments the author of the Mem- 
orandum] gave the Zemstvo a social-estate tinge, strength- 
ened the government element in the assemblies, and 
appointed all the uyezd marshals of the nobility and rural 
superintendents 41 to the gubernia Zemstvo Assemblies, and 
the fact that these featureless, social-estate, bureaucratic 
Zemstvos continue nevertheless to betray political tendencies, 
is a matter that should be pondered.... Resistance has not 
been overcome; deep discontent and silent opposition un- 
doubtedly exist, and will continue to exist until the Zemstvo 
representing all estates dies." Such is the last word in bureau- 
cratic wisdom. If curtailed representation gives rise to dis- 
content, then the abolition of every kind of representation 

See footnote to p. 36. — TV. 



will, by simple human logic, strengthen this discontent and 
opposition. Mr. Witte imagines, however, that if one of the 
institutions that bring at least a particle of discontent to the 
surface is closed down, the discontent will disappear. Per- 
haps you think that Witte proposes something as resolute 
as the abolition of the Zemstvo? Nothing of the kind. 
Although, for the sake of fine words, he condemns the policy 
of evasion, Witte himself has nothing else but this policy 
to propose; nor can he have, without shedding the skin 
of minister of the autocratic government. Witte mumbles 
arrant nonsense about a "third way" — neither bureaucratic 
domination nor local self-government, but an administra- 
tive reform which should "properly organise" the "participa- 
tion of public elements in government institutions". It is 
easy to emit nonsense of this kind, but after all the experi- 
ments with "qualified people" no one will be deceived by it; 
it is only too obvious that without a constitution any "par- 
ticipation of public elements" will be a fiction, will mean 
the subordination of the public (or those "called" from the 
public) to the bureaucracy. While criticising a particular 
measure of the Ministry of the Interior (the establishment of 
Zemstvos in the outlying regions), Witte cannot suggest any- 
thing new on the general question he himself raises, but 
merely warms up the old methods — half-measures, pseudo- 
concessions, and promises of numerous benefits, none of 
which are fulfilled. It cannot be too strongly emphasised 
that on the general question of "the direction of domestic 
policy", Witte and Goremykin are at one, and that the con- 
troversy between them is merely a family quarrel, a feud 
within the clan. On the one hand, Witte hastens to declare, 
"I have never proposed nor do I now propose the abolition 
of Zemstvo institutions or any radical change in the present 
system ... under present conditions there can hardly be any 
talk of abolishing them [the existing Zemstvos]". Witte, 
"on his part, thinks that with the establishment of strong 
governmental authority in the localities, it will be possible 
to place greater confidence in the Zemstvos", etc. After 
establishing a strong local bureaucracy to counterbalance 
local self-government (i.e., rendering local self-government 
impotent), one can place greater "confidence" in it. The same 
old song! Mr. Witte fears only "institutions representing all 


the social-estates"; he "did not have in mind the various 
corporations, societies, unions of the social-estates or trade 
unions and did not consider their activities to be dangerous 
to the autocracy". For example, in regard to the "village com- 
munes", Mr. Witte does not doubt in the least that in view 
of their "inertness" they are harmless to the autocracy. "The 
predominance of landownership relations and the interests 
connected with them develop spiritual peculiarities in the 
rural population which render it indifferent to anything 
outside the politics of the village pump.... Our peasants at 
village meetings concern themselves with the apportioning 
of taxes, ... the distribution of allotments, etc. Moreover, 
they are illiterate or semi-literate — what sort of politics 
then can they concern themselves withV Mr. Witte is ex- 
tremely sober-minded, as you see. In regard to the unions of 
social-estates he declares that from the point of view of the 
danger they represent to the central government "their di- 
versity of interests is of great importance. The government, 
by taking advantage of this diversity of interests, can always 
find support in one social-estate and play it off against the 
political claims of the others". Witte's programme of "prop- 
erly organised participation of public elements in govern- 
ment institutions" is nothing but another of the innumerable 
attempts of the police state to "split" the population. 

On the other hand, Mr. Goremykin, with whom Mr. Witte 
enters into such heated controversy, himself carries out 
this very systematic policy of disunity and persecution. He 
argues (in his Memorandum, to which Witte rejoins) that 
it is necessary to institute new offices to supervise the 
Zemstvo; he is opposed to permitting even simple local con- 
gresses of Zemstvo civil servants; he stands whole-heartedly 
for the Regulations of 1890 — that step towards the abol- 
ition of the Zemstvos; he fears the effort of the Zemstvos to 
include "tendentious questions" in their programme of as- 
sessment work; he fears Zemstvo statistics generally; he is 
in favour of taking the elementary schools out of the hands 
of the Zemstvos and placing them under the control of govern- 
ment institutions; he argues that the Zemstvos are incapable 
of handling the questions connected with the food supply 
(Zemstvo workers, don't you see, encourage "exaggerated 
notions of the extent of the disaster and the needs of the 



famine-stricken population"!!); and he defends the fixing of 
limits to Zemstvo taxation, "in order to protect landed proper- 
ty from excessive increases in Zemstvo taxes". Witte is entirely 
right, therefore, when he says: "The entire policy of the Min- 
istry of the Interior towards the Zemstvos consists in 
slowly but steadily undermining their organs, weakening 
their significance, and concentrating their functions in the 
hands of government institutions. It may be said without 
the slightest exaggeration that when the 'recently adopted 
measures' referred to in the Memorandum [Goremykin's] 
'regulating the various branches of Zemstvo work and 
administration' are brought to a successful conclusion, we 
shall have no local self-government whatever. All that will 
be left of the Zemstvo institutions will be a mere idea and 
a shell without any real content." Consequently, the policy 
of Goremykin (and more so the policy of Sipyagin) and of 
Witte lead to the same goal, and the controversy over the 
question of the Zemstvo and constitutionalism is, we repeat, 
nothing more than a family quarrel. Lovers' tiffs are easily 
made up again. The "fight" between Mr. Witte and Mr. 
Goremykin is nothing more serious than that. As for our 
own views on the general question of the autocracy and the 
Zemstvos, it will be more convenient to present them in 
the process of analysing the preface written by R. N. S.* 


Mr. R. N. S.'s preface represents much that is of interest. 
It touches upon the broadest questions of political reforms 
in Russia, the various methods by which these reforms can 
be effected, and the significance of the various forces leading 
to these reforms. On the other hand, Mr. R. N. S., who appar- 
ently has close relations with liberal circles generally, and 
Zemstvo liberal circles in particular, undoubtedly sounds 
a new note in the chorus of our "underground" literature. 
Therefore, in order to clear up the question of the political 
significance of the Zemstvos in principle and to acquaint 
ourselves with the tendencies and, I shall not say directions, 

*A nom de plume used by Mr. Struve. (Author's comment to the 
1907 edition.— Ed.) 


but moods, in the circles close to the liberals, it will be well 
worth our while to deal in detail with this preface and 
determine whether that which is new in it is positive or 
negative, and to what extent it is positive and to what 
extent negative and why. 

The fundamental feature of R. N. S.'s views is the 
following. As can be seen from numerous passages of his 
essay, quoted below, he favours peaceful, gradual, and 
strictly legal development. On the other hand, he rebels 
with all his being against the autocracy and yearns for polit- 
ical freedom. But the autocracy is an autocracy precisely 
because it prohibits and persecutes all "development" 
towards freedom. This contradiction permeates the whole 
of R. N. S.'s essay and renders his argumentation extremely 
illogical, hesitant, and unsound. Constitutionalism can be 
combined with solicitude for the strictly legal development 
of autocratic Russia only on the premise or, at least, on the 
assumption that the autocratic government itself will un- 
derstand, grow weary, yield, etc. And Mr. R. N. S. does, 
indeed, at times fall from the height of his civic indignation 
to the vulgar viewpoint of the most immature liberalism. 
Thus, he says of himself: "...we who regard the struggle for 
civil liberties waged by politically conscious people in Russia 
today to be their vow of Hannibal, a vow as sacred as that 
taken by the men and women who fought for the emancipa- 
tion of the peasants in the forties" ... and, again, "however 
trying it is to those of us who have taken the 'vow of Hanni- 
bal' to fight against the autocracy", etc. Well said, powerfully 
said! Powerful words like these would have been an embel- 
lishment to the article, if the same spirit of indomitable and 
irreconcilable struggle ("the vow of Hannibal") had pervaded 
it throughout. But these powerful words, precisely because 
they are so powerful, sound discordant when accompanied 
by a note of artificial conciliation and pacification, by an 
attempt to introduce, even with the aid of far-fetched inter- 
pretations, the conception of peaceful, strictly legal devel- 
opment. Mr. R. N. S., unfortunately, evinces more than 
enough such notes and such attempts. He devotes a page and a 
half, for instance, to a detailed "argumentation" of the idea 
that "the policy of the state during the reign of Nicholas II 
deserves even severer [our italics] condemnation from 



the moral and political points of view than the wicked 
revision of the reforms of Alexander II carried out during 
the reign of Alexander III". Why severer condemnation? 
It appears that this is because Alexander III fought against 
revolution, while Nicholas II fought against "the legal 
aspirations of Russian society"; the former fought against 
politically conscious forces, the latter against "quite peace- 
ful social forces often acting without any clear political 
idea" ("hardly even realising that their purposive cultural 
work was undermining the state system"). To a considerable 
degree this is untrue in point of fact, as we shall show further 
on. But apart from this, one cannot help noting the author's 
peculiar line of reasoning. He condemns autocracy, but con- 
demns one autocrat more than another, not because of poli- 
cy, for that has remained unchanged, but because he (al- 
legedly) has no "hotheads" to contend with, such as "natural- 
ly" call forth sharp resistance, and, consequently, he has no 
occasion for persecutions. Is not such an argument an ob- 
vious concession to the loyal and humble contention that 
Our Father the Tsar need not fear to call together his 
beloved people because they have never dreamed of anything 
beyond the bounds of peaceful strivings and strict legality? 
We are not surprised to find such a "train of thought" (or 
train of lies) in the works of Mr. Witte, who writes in his 
Memorandum: "One would suppose, when there are no polit- 
ical parties and there is no revolution, and when the rights 
of the supreme authority are not being challenged, that the 
administration should not be contraposed to the people or 
society...",* etc. We are not surprised to meet with such ar- 
guments in the writings of Mr. Chicherin, who, in the Mem- 
orandum presented to Count Milyutin after March 1, 1881, 
declared that "the authorities must first of all display 
their energy and show that they have not lowered their 
nag in the face of danger", that "the monarchical system is 
compatible with free institutions only when the latter are 
the fruit of peaceful development and the calm initiative 
of the supreme authority itself", and who recommended the 

* P. 205. "This is even silly," observes R. N. S. in a footnote to 
this passage. Quite so. But is not R. N. S.'s reasoning on pp. xi-xii 
of his preface, cited above, moulded from the same clay? 


establishment of a "strong and liberal" government func- 
tioning with the aid of a "legislative organ strengthened and 
renovated by the elective element".* Now, it would be quite 
natural for such a Mr. Chicherin to acknowledge that the 
policy of Nicholas II deserves greater condemnation, because 
under his rule peaceful development and the calm initiative 
of the supreme authority itself could have led to free insti- 
tutions. But is it natural and decent to hear such reasoning 
from a man who took the vow of Hannibal to struggle? 

Mr. R. N. S. is wrong in point of fact. "Now," he says, com- 
paring the present reign with the preceding one, "no one 
thinks seriously of the violent overthrow wishfully imagined 
by the adherents of Narodnaya Volya." Parlez pour vous, 
monsieur! Speak only for yourself. We know quite definite- 
ly that the revolutionary movement in Russia, far from hav- 
ing died out or subsided in the present as compared with 
the previous reign, has, on the contrary, revived and become 
many times stronger. What kind of "revolutionary" move- 
ment would it be, if none of the participants thought seri- 
ously of a violent change? The objection may be raised that 
in the quoted lines Mr. R. N. S. has in mind, not violent 
revolution in general, but a specific "Narodnaya Volya" 
revolution, i.e., a revolution that will be both political and 
social at the same time, a revolution that will lead, not only 
to the overthrow of the autocracy, but to the seizure of pow- 
er. Such an objection, however, would be groundless, first, 
because to the autocracy as such (i.e., to the autocratic 
government and not to the "bourgeoisie" or "society") it is 
not important for what reason people want to overthrow it; 
important is the fact that they want to overthrow it. Second- 
ly, at the beginning of the reign of Alexander III, the Na- 
rodnaya Volya adherents "presented" to the government 
the very alternative that Social-Democracy now presents 
to Nicholas II — either revolutionary struggle or the renun- 
ciation of autocratic power. (See the Letter of the Executive 
Committee of Narodnaya Volya to Alexander III, dated 
March 10, 1881, which put forward two conditions: (1) a 
general amnesty for all political offenders, and (2) the 

*Witte's Memorandum, pp. 122-23. The Constitution of Count 
Loris-Melikov, p. 24. 



convening of an assembly of representatives of the entire 
Russian people on the basis of universal suffrage, freedom 
of the press, speech, and assembly.) Mr. R. N. S. himself 
knows perfectly well that many people, not only among the 
intelligentsia, but also among the working class, "think 
seriously" about a violent revolution; see page xxxix et 
seq. of his essay, where reference is made to "revolutionary 
Social-Democracy", which possesses a "mass basis and in- 
tellectual forces", which is advancing towards "the decisive 
political struggle", towards the "sanguinary struggle of 
revolutionary Russia against the absolutist-bureaucratic 
regime" (p. xli). There is not the slightest doubt, therefore, that 
Mr. R. N. S.'s "loyal speeches" constitute a special method, 
an attempt to influence the government (or "public opinion") 
by demonstrating his (or other people's) modesty. 

Mr. R. N. S., by the way, thinks that the term "struggle" 
may be given a very wide interpretation. "The abolition 
of the Zemstvo," he writes, "will place a trump card in the 
hands of revolutionary propagandists — we say this quite 
objectively [sic!], without, on the one hand, experiencing 
repulsion against what is usually termed revolutionary ac- 
tion, or, on the other, being carried away with infatuation 
or admiration for this form [sicl] of struggle for political 
and social progress." This is a most remarkable tirade. If 
we remove the quasi-scientific formula, this inappropriate 
parading of "objectivity" (since the author himself mentions 
his preference for one or another form of activity or of strug- 
gle, the protestation of his objectivity rates in value with 
the statement, two and two equal one stearin candle), we 
shall find the hoary argument: Gentlemen of the government, 
you may believe me when I begin to scare you with revolu- 
tion, because my heart is not in it. His reference to objec- 
tivity is nothing more nor less than a fig-leaf intended to 
conceal subjective antipathy to revolution and revolutiona- 
ry activity. And Mr. R. N. S. stands in need of a fig-leaf, 
because such antipathy is totally incompatible with the vow 
of Hannibal. 

By the way, are we not making a mistake about this 
Hannibal? Did he really take a vow to struggle against the 
Romans, or only to fight for the progress of Carthage, which 
progress, of course, in the final analysis, would be to the in- 


jury of Rome? Can the term "struggle" be understood other- 
wise than in its "narrow" meaning? Mr. R. N. S. thinks it can. 
A comparison of the vow of Hannibal with the above-men- 
tioned tirade yields the conclusion that struggle against 
the autocracy manifests itself in various "forms": one form 
is the revolutionary, illegal struggle; another form is "strug- 
gle for political and social progress" in general, in other words 
peaceful legal activity, which disseminates culture within 
the limits permitted by the autocracy. We do not doubt in 
the least that it is possible even under the autocracy to 
carry on legal activity which promotes Russian progress, in 
some cases fairly rapid technological progress, in a few cases 
insignificant social progress, and, in exceptional cases, polit- 
ical progress to a very slight extent. We may argue about 
the magnitude of this slight progress and the extent to which 
it is possible, the extent to which isolated cases of such prog- 
ress are capable of paralysing the mass political demorali- 
sation which the autocracy is constantly sowing among the 
population everywhere. But to include, even indirectly, 
peaceful legal activity in the conception of struggle against 
the autocracy means to facilitate this work of demoralisa- 
tion and to weaken the as it is infinitely weak consciousness 
of the Russian man in the street of his responsibility as 
citizen for everything the government does. 

Unfortunately, Mr. R. N. S. is not alone among the illegal 
writers who seek to obliterate the difference between revolu- 
tionary struggle and peaceful uplift activities. He has a 
predecessor in the person of R. M., author of the article "Our 
Reality", published in the celebrated "Separate Supplement" 
to Rabochaya Mysl 42 (September 1899). In his controversy 
with the Social-Democratic revolutionaries, Mr. R. M. 
wrote: "The struggle for the Zemstvo and for municipal self- 
government, the struggle for public schools, the struggle 
for public courts, the struggle for public aid to the famine- 
stricken population, etc., all represent the struggle against 
the autocracy.... This social struggle, which for some unex- 
plained reason fails to attract the favourable interest of many 
Russian revolutionary writers, is, as we have seen, being 
waged by Russian society, and not only since yesterday.... 
The question now is how these separate social strata ... can 
wage the struggle against the autocracy most effectively.... 



The principal question for us is how this social struggle 
against the autocracy should be waged by our workers, whose 
movement our revolutionaries regard as the best means of 
overthrowing the autocracy" (pp. 8-9). As can be seen, 
Mr. R. M. does not bother to conceal his antipathy towards 
the revolutionaries; he openly characterises legal opposition 
and peaceful activity as struggle against the autocracy, and 
the most important question for him is how the workers 
should conduct this struggle. Mr. R. N. S. is not nearly so 
crude and open, but the kinship between the political 
trends of this liberal and of the ardent worshipper of the 
labour movement pure and simple, is very definitely ap- 

With respect to Mr. R. N. S.'s "objectivity", we must say 
that he sometimes simply casts it aside. He is "objective" 
when he speaks of the working-class movement, of its organ- 
ic growth, of the future inevitable struggles between revo- 
lutionary Social-Democracy and the autocracy, and when he 
states that the abolition of the Zemstvos will inevitably 
force the liberals to organise an illegal party. All this is set 
forth in a very business-like and sober manner, so sober 
indeed that one can only rejoice that the working-class 
movement in Russia is so well understood in liberal circles. 
But when, instead of fighting the enemy, Mr. R. N. S. begins 
to talk about the possibility of "submission" on the part of 
the enemy, he forfeits his "objectivity", gives expression 
to his real sentiments, and even passes from the indicative 
mood to the imperative. 

"Only in the event of people being found among those in power 
courageous enough to submit to history and to compel the autocrat to 

* "The economic organisations of the workers," says Mr. R. N. S. 
in another passage, "will serve as a school for the real political education 
of the working masses." We would advise our author to be more care- 
ful in employing the term "real", which has been worn thin by the 
knights of opportunism. It cannot be denied that under certain condi- 
tions their economic organisations may help the workers very consid- 
erably in their political training (no more than it can be denied 
that under other circumstances they may help in their political demor- 
alisation). But the masses of the workers can obtain real political 
training only by their participation in all aspects of the revolutionary 
movement, including open street fighting and civil war against the 
defenders of political and economic slavery. 


submit to it will the final and bloody struggle between revolutionary 
Russia and the autocratic-bureaucratic regime be avoided.... No doubt 
there are men among the higher bureaucracy who do not sympathise 
with the reactionary policy.... These men, the only persons having 
access to the throne, never dare to express their convictions openly.... 
Perhaps the enormous shadow of the inevitable, historic day of retri- 
bution, the shadow of great events, will cause the government circles 
to waver and will destroy the iron system of reactionary policy while 
there is yet time. Comparatively little is required for this now.... Per- 
haps it [the government] will realise, before it is too late, the fatal 
danger of protecting the autocratic regime at all costs. Perhaps even 
before it has to face revolution, it will grow weary of its struggle against 
the natural and historically necessary development of freedom, and 
will waver in its 'irreconcilable' policy. If it ceases to be consistent 
in its struggle against freedom, it will be obliged to open the door wider 
and wider for it. It maybe ... no, not only may be, but so shall it bel" 
(Author's italics). 

Amen! is all that we need add to this well-intentioned 
and lofty monologue. Our Hannibal makes such rapid prog- 
ress that he now appears before us in a third form. The first 
was the struggle against the autocracy, the second — the 
spreading of culture, the third — appeals to the enemy to 
submit and attempts to frighten him with a "shadow". How 
frightful! We quite agree with our respected Mr. R. N. S. 
that the sanctimonious hypocrites of the Russian Government 
are sooner frightened by "shadows" than by anything else 
on earth. Immediately prior to conjuring up shadows, our 
author, in referring to the growth of the revolutionary forces 
and to the impending revolutionary outbreak, exclaimed: "We 
foresee with profound sorrow the horrible price in people and 
in cultural forces that will have to be paid for this madly 
aggressive, conservative policy which has neither politi- 
cal sense nor a shadow of moral justification." What a bot- 
tomless pit of doctrinairism and unction is revealed by this 
conclusion to an argument about the revolutionary out- 
break! The author fails completely to understand the enor- 
mous historical significance it would have, if, for once at 
least, the people of Russia taught the government a good 
lesson. Instead of showing the "horrible price" the peo- 
ple have paid and are still paying to absolutism, in 
order to arouse their hatred and indignation and instil 
in them a readiness and a passion for struggle, you talk 
about future sacrifices in order to frighten people away 



from the struggle. My good gentlemen! It would be far bet- 
ter for you to refrain altogether from talking about the 
"revolutionary outbreak" than to ruin your reasoning with 
such a finale. Apparently, you do not wish to create "great 
events", you merely want to talk about "the shadow of 
great events", and then only with "persons having access 
to the throne". 

Our legal press, as we know, is chock-full of such talk 
with shadows and about shadows; and in order to give 
substance to the shadows, it has become fashionable to 
refer to the "great reforms" and to sing to them hallelujahs 
full of conventional lies. An author writing under the sur- 
veillance of the censor may sometimes be forgiven such 
lies, since otherwise he would never be able to express his 
striving for political reforms. But no censorship hovered 
over Mr. R. N. S. He writes, "The great reforms were not 
devised for the greater triumph of the bureaucracy." How 
evasive this apologetic phrase is. By whom "devised"? By 
Herzen, Chernyshevsky, Unkovsky, and those who marched 
with them? But these people demanded ever so much more 
than was effected by the "reforms", and because of this they 
were persecuted by the government that introduced the 
"great" reforms. By the government and by those who fol- 
lowed it blindly singing its praises and snarling at the "hot- 
heads"? But the government strove by every means in its 
power to concede as little as possible, and to curtail the 
democratic demands precisely for the "greater triumph 
of the bureaucracy". Mr. R. N. S. is well aware of these 
historical facts, and he obscures them only for the reason 
that they entirely refute his smug theory of the possible 
"submission" of the autocrat. There is no place for submis- 
siveness in politics, and the time-honoured police method 
of divide et impera, divide and rule, yield the unimportant 
in order to preserve the essential, give with one hand and 
take back with the other, can be mistaken for submission 
only out of unbounded simplicity (both sacred and sly sim- 
plicity). "...When the government of Alexander II devised 
and introduced the 'great reforms', it did not at the same 
time deliberately set itself the aim of cutting off imperative- 
ly all the Russian people's legal roads to political liberty, 
it did not weigh its every step and every paragraph of the 


law with this end in view." This is untruel The government 
of Alexander II, both in "devising" the reforms and in in- 
troducing them, set out from the very beginning to reject 
the demands for political freedom then put forward. From 
the beginning to the end it cut off every legal road to liber- 
ty; for it answered even simple appeals with repressions, 
it never even permitted liberty to be discussed freely. Suf- 
fice it to recall the facts mentioned in Witte's Memorandum, 
quoted above, to refute Mr. R. N. S.'s paeans of praise. 
Concerning the persons in the government of Alexander II, 
Witte expresses himself, for example, as follows: "It must be 
observed that the prominent statesmen of the sixties, whose 
celebrated names will be preserved by a grateful posterity, 
in their time did more that is great than anything their 
successors may have done; they toiled at the renovation of our 
state and social system from sincere conviction, not to frus- 
trate the strivings of their ruler, but out of unbounded 
loyalty to him" (p. 67 of the Memorandum). What is true 
is true — from sincere conviction, out of unbounded loyalty 
to the ruler at the head of the police gang.... 

After this we are not surprised that Mr. R. N. S. says very 
little about the most important question of the role 
of the Zemstvos in the struggle for political liberty. Apart 
from the usual references to the "practical" and "cultural" 
work of the Zemstvo, he mentions in passing its "education- 
al-political significance"; he says that the "Zemstvo has 
political significance", that the Zemstvo, as Mr. Witte 
clearly sees, "is dangerous [to the present system] only by 
virtue of the historical tendency of its development — as 
the embryo of a constitution". And, concluding these seem- 
ingly casual remarks, comes the following attack upon 
revolutionaries: "We value Mr. Witte's work, not only for 
the truth it tells about the autocracy, but also as a valuable 
political testimonial to the Zemstvo granted by the bureau- 
cracy itself. This testimonial is an excellent reply to all 
those who, being devoid of political education or carried 
away by revolutionary phrases [sic!], have refused to see 
the enormous political significance of the Russian Zemstvos 
and their legal cultural activity." Who has revealed a lack 
of education? Who is carried away? Where and when? With 
whom does Mr. R. N. S. disagree? And why? To these ques- 



tions no reply is forthcoming, and our author's attack is 
nothing but an expression of his antipathy towards revolu- 
tionaries, which we know from other passages in his essay. 
Matters are not clarified by the still stranger comment: 
"By these words we do not desire [?!] to offend revolution- 
aries whose moral courage in the struggle against tyranny 
cannot be too highly estimated." Wherefore this remark? 
What connection is there between moral courage and 
inability to appreciate the Zemstvos? Mr. R. N. S. 
has indeed fallen out of the frying-pan into the fire. 
First he "offended" the revolutionaries by making an 
unsupported and "anonymous" (i.e., not known against 
whom levelled) charge of ignorance and phrase-mongering, 
and now he commits a fresh "offence" against them by as- 
suming that they can be induced to swallow the charge of 
ignorance if the pill is sweetened by recognition of their 
moral courage. To complete the confusion, Mr. R. N. S. 
contradicts himself by declaring, in chorus, as it were, with 
those who are "carried away by revolutionary phrases", 
that "the modern Russian Zemstvo ... is not a political mag- 
nitude that could impress or overawe anyone by its own 
direct power.... It can barely maintain its own position".... 
"Only in the remote future and only as a result of the cultur- 
al development of the whole country could such institu- 
tions [as the Zemstvo] ... become a menace to this [absolut- 
ist] system." 


Let us, however, try to analyse the issue on which Mr. 
R. N. S. speaks so angrily and emptily. The facts we have 
cited above show that the "political significance" of the Zem- 
stvos., i.e., their significance as a factor in the struggle for 
political freedom, lies principally in the following: first, 
these bodies of representatives of our propertied classes 
(particularly the landed aristocracy) forever contrapose 
elected institutions to the bureaucracy, give rise to constant 
conflicts between them, expose at every step the reaction- 
ary character of the irresponsible tsarist officialdom, and 
foster discontent and opposition to the autocratic govern- 


ment.* Secondly, the Zemstvos, attached to the bureaucratic 
chariot like a superfluous fifth wheel, strive to consolidate 
their position, to increase their significance, and to obtain 
a constitution by petitioning — "unconsciously march to- 
wards it", as Witte himself puts the matter. For that reason 
they are unsuitable as allies of the government in its fight 
against the revolutionaries; they maintain a benevolent 
neutrality towards the latter and render them undoubted, 
if indirect, service by causing the government to waver in 
its measures of repression at critical moments. Of course, 
institutions, which hitherto have proved that they are, at 
best, capable of making only liberal petitions and main- 
taining benevolent neutrality, cannot be regarded as an 
"important", or to any degree an independent, factor in the 
political struggle; but it cannot be denied that the Zemst- 
vos represent one of the auxiliary factors in the struggle. 
In this sense we are even prepared, if you will, to regard the 
Zemstvo as a piece of constitution. Perhaps the reader will 
say, "Then you agree with Mr. R. N. S., who does not claim 
any more for them?" Not at all. It is only here that our 
difference with him begins. 

Let us admit for the sake of argument that the Zemstvo is 
a piece of constitution. But it is precisely such a piece that 
was used to decoy Russian "society" away from a consti- 
tution. It is precisely such a relatively unimportant posi- 
tion that the autocracy has yielded to growing democracy 
in order to retain its hold on its principal positions, in 
order to divide and disunite those who demanded political 
reforms. We have seen how this policy of disuniting on the 
basis of "confidence" in the Zemstvo ("the embryo of a con- 
stitution") succeeded in the sixties and in the years 1880- 
81. The question of the relation of the Zemstvos to politi- 
cal freedom is a particular case of the general question of 
the relation of reforms to revolution. This particular case 
serves to illustrate the narrow-mindedness and stupidity 
of the fashionable theory of Bernstein, 43 which substitutes 
reforms for revolutionary struggle and declares (e.g., 

* See the extremely detailed treatment of this aspect of the 
question in the pamphlet by P. B. Axelrod, The Historical Position 
and the Mutual Relations between Liberal and Socialist Democracy 
in Russia, Geneva, 1898. See particularly pp. 5, 8, 11-12, 17-19. 



through the mouth of Mr. Berdyaev) that the "principle of 
progress is that the better things are, the better". This 
principle in its general form is as untrue as its reverse that 
the worse things are, the better. Revolutionaries, of course, 
will never reject the struggle for reforms, the struggle to 
capture even minor and unimportant enemy positions, if 
these will serve to strengthen the attack and help to achieve 
full victory. But they will never forget that sometimes the 
enemy himself surrenders a certain position in order to dis- 
unite the attacking party and thus to defeat it more easily. 
They will never forget that only by constantly having the 
"ultimate aim" in view, only by appraising every step of 
the "movement" and every reform from the point of view 
of the general revolutionary struggle, is it possible to 
guard the movement against false steps and shameful 

It is this aspect of the question — the significance of the 
Zemstvo as an instrument for strengthening the autocracy 
through half-concessions, as a means of bringing over a cer- 
tain section of the liberals to the side of the autocracy — 
that Mr. R. N. S. has completely failed to understand. He 
has preferred to invent for his own use a doctrinaire scheme 
by which the Zemstvos and the constitution are connected 
by the straight-line "formula", the better things are, the 
better. "If you first abolish the Zemstvos in Russia," he 
says, addressing himself to Witte, "and then increase the 
rights of the individual, you will lose the good opportu- 
nity of giving the country a moderate constitution growing 
historically out of local self-government with a social- 
estate appearance. At all events you will render the cause of 
conservatism a distinct disservice." What a beautiful and 
harmonious conception! Local self-government with a so- 
cial-estate tinge — a wise conservative, having access to the 
throne — a moderate constitution. The unfortunate thing 
about it is that in actual practice, the wise conservatives 
have on more than one occasion, thanks to the Zemstvos, 
found "good opportunities" to withhold the constitution 
from the country. 

Mr. R. N. S.'s peaceful "conception" had its effect also 
on the slogan with which he concludes his essay and which 
is printed in the manner of a slogan, as a separate line and 


in heavy type: "Rights, and an Authoritative All-Russian 
Zemstvo!" It must be frankly acknowledged that this is the 
same sort of indecent flirting with the political prejudices 
of the broad masses of Russian liberals as Rabochaya MysUs 
flirting with the political prejudices of the broad masses 
of the workers. We are duty-bound to raise a protest in the 
first as in the second case against such flirting. It is preju- 
dice to believe that the government of Alexander II did 
not cut off the legal road to liberty, that the Zemstvos pro- 
vide a good opportunity for granting a moderate constitu- 
tion to the country, and that the slogan, "Rights, and an 
Authoritative Zemstvo" can serve as the banner of, we shall 
not say the revolutionary, but even the constitutional, 
movement. This is not a banner that can serve to distinguish 
enemies from allies, or help to direct and guide the move- 
ment; it is but a rag that can only help the most unreliable 
characters to creep into the movement, and assist the gov- 
ernment to make still another attempt to come off with 
high-sounding promises and indesisive reforms. One need 
not be a prophet to be able to prophesy this. Our 
revolutionary movement will reach its apogee, the liberal 
ferment in society will increase tenfold, and other 
Loris-Melikovs and Ignatyevs will appear in the govern- 
ment and inscribe on their banner: "Rights, and an Author- 
itative Zemstvo". But if it came to pass, it would be the 
most unfavourable outcome for Russia and the most favour- 
able for the government. If any considerable section of 
the liberals put their faith in that banner, and, allowing 
themselves to be carried away by it, attack the revolution- 
ary "hotheads" in the rear, the latter may find themselves 
cut off, and the government will try to restrict itself to 
a minimum of concessions limited to something in the 
nature of an advisory and aristocratic constitution. Whether 
this attempt will be successful or not, depends upon the 
outcome of the decisive struggle between the revolutionary 
proletariat and the government; but of one thing we may 
be certain — the liberals will be betrayed. With the aid of 
slogans like those advanced by Mr. R. N. S. ("Authorita- 
tive Zemstvo", etc.), the government will decoy them like 
puppies away from the revolutionaries, only to take them 
by the scruff of the neck and thrash them with the whip 



of reaction. And when that happens, gentlemen, we will 
not forget to say, Serves you rightl 

Why, instead of a demand for the abolition of absolu- 
tism, is such a moderate and chastened wish put forward as 
ultimate slogan? First, for the sake of the philistine doctri- 
nairism that desires to render a "service to conservatism" 
and believes that the government will be softened by such 
moderation and be rendered "submissive" by it. Secondly, 
in order to "unite the liberals". Indeed, the slogan "Rights, 
and an Authoritative Zemstvo" can perhaps serve to unite 
all liberals in the same way as (in the opinion of the "Econ- 
omists") the slogan "add a kopek to each ruble"* will unite 
all the workers. But will not such unity be a loss rather 
than a gain? Unity is an advantage when it raises those who 
are united to the level of the class-conscious and decisive 
programme of the unifying force. Unity is a disadvantage 
when it lowers the unifying force to the level of the prej- 
udices of the masses. Among Russian liberals there is 
undoubtedly a widespread prejudice that the Zemstvo is 
indeed the "embryo of a constitution",** the "natural", peace- 
ful, and gradual growth of which is accidentally retarded 

*I.e., a one per cent wage increase.— Tr. 
**As to what may be expected from the Zemstvo, it may not be 
without interest to quote the following opinion expressed by Prince 
P. V. Dolgorukov in his Listok 44 published in the sixties (Burtsev, 
op. cit., pp. 64-67): "In examining the main regulations governing 
the Zemstvo institutions, we again come across the selfsame secret 
thought of the government, which continually breaks out into the 
light, viz., to overwhelm with generosity, to proclaim loudly, 'See 
how much I am giving you!' — yet to give as little as possible, and 
even to impose restrictions upon the enjoyment of the little that is 
given.... Under the present autocratic system, the Zemstvo institu- 
tions do not and cannot bring any benefits, and will not and cannot 
have any significance, but they are rich in the seeds of fruitful devel- 
opment in the future.... New Zemstvo institutions may well be des- 
tined to serve as the basis for the future constitutional order in Rus- 
sia.... But as long as Russia lacks a constitutional system of govern- 
ment, as long as the autocracy exists, and as long as freedom of the 
press is denied, the Zemstvo institutions will be doomed to remain 
political phantoms, mute assemblies of those who should voice the 
interests of the people." Thus, even in the sixties, Dolgorukov was 
not very optimistic. The forty years that have passed since then have 
taught us much and have demonstrated that the Zemstvos were 
destined by "fate" (and partly by the government) to serve as the 
basis for a series of measures to overwhelm the constitutionalists. 


by the intrigues of certain immoral time-servers, that only 
a few petitions are necessary in order to bring the autocrat 
to "submission", that legal cultural work generally and 
Zemstvo work in particular have "considerable political 
significance", relieving those who mouth verbal hostility 
to the autocracy of the obligation actively to support the 
revolutionary struggle against the autocracy in one way 
or another, and so forth, and so on. Undoubtedly, it would 
be very useful and desirable to unite the liberals; but the 
unity must be one whose purpose is to combat outworn prej- 
udices and not to play up to them, to raise the general 
level of our political development (or rather underdevelop- 
ment), and not to sanction it — in a word, it must be a unity 
for the purpose of supporting the illegal struggle and not 
for the purpose of opportunistic phrase-mongering about 
the great political significance of legal activity. If there can 
be no justification for issuing to the workers the political 
slogan "Freedom to Strike", etc., then, by the same token, 
there can be no justification for issuing to the liberals the 
slogan "An Authoritative Zemstvo". Under the autocracy 
every kind of Zemstvo, however "authoritative" it may 
be, will inevitably be a deformity, incapable of develop- 
ment, while under a constitution the Zemstvo will immedi- 
ately lose its present-day "political" significance. 

The unification of liberals is possible in two ways: by form- 
ing an independent liberal party (illegal, of course), or 
by organising liberal aid for revolutionaries. Mr. R. N. S. 
himself points to the first form, but ... if what he says in 
this connection is to be taken as a genuine expression of the 
views and prospects of liberalism, then it does not give 
grounds for very great optimism. He writes: "Without a 
Zemstvo, the Zemstvo liberals will have to form a liberal 
party or abandon the historical stage as an organised force. 
We are convinced that the organisation of liberals in an ille- 
gal party, even if its programme and its methods are very 
moderate, will be the inevitable result of the abolition of 
the Zemstvo." If that is the case, we shall have to wait a 
long time, for even Witte does not wish to abolish the Zemst- 
vos, and as for the Russian Government it is very 
much concerned with preserving their outward form, even 
if their content is completely eliminated. That a liberal 



party will be a very moderate one is quite natural, and it 
is useless to expect that the movement among the bour- 
geoisie (for only on that movement can a liberal party be 
based) will give rise to any other. But what should be the ac- 
tivities and the "methods" of such a party? Mr. R. N. S. 
does not explain. He says: "An illegal liberal party, being 
an organisation consisting of the most moderate and least 
mobile of the opposition elements, cannot by itself devel- 
op a particularly extensive, or particularly intensive, 
activity...." We think, however, that in a certain sphere, 
although limited by local and above all by Zemstvo inter- 
ests, the liberal party could very well develop an exten- 
sive and intensive activity, such as the organisation of 
political exposures.... "But with such activity on the part 
of other parties, especially the Social-Democratic or work- 
ing-class party, the liberal party, even without entering 
into any direct agreement with the Social-Democrats, can 
become a highly important factor...." Very true; and the 
reader will naturally expect that the author would, at 
least in general outline, describe the work of this "factor". 
But instead of doing so, Mr. R. N. S. describes the growth 
of revolutionary Social-Democracy and concludes: "With 
the existence of a pronounced political movement ... a 
liberal opposition, if it is in the least organised, can play 
an important political role; with proper tactics, a moderate 
party always stands to gain from an accentuated struggle 
between extreme social elements...." That is all! The "role" 
of the "factor" (which has already managed to convert it- 
self from a party into an "opposition") is to "take advantage" 
of the growing acuteness of the struggle. Mention is made 
of what the liberals stand to gain, but not a word is said 
about the liberals taking part in the struggle. The slip of 
the tongue, one may say, is providential.... 

The Russian Social-Democrats never closed their eyes 
to the fact that the political liberties for which they are 
first and foremost fighting will benefit primarily the bour- 
geoisie. Only a socialist steeped in the worst prejudices of 
utopianism, or reactionary Narodism, would for that rea- 
son object to carrying on the struggle against the autocracy. 
The bourgeoisie will benefit by these liberties and rest on 
its laurels — the proletariat, however, must have freedom 


in order to develop the struggle for socialism to the utmost. 
And Social-Democracy will persistently carry on the strug- 
gle for liberation, regardless of the attitude of the various 
strata of the bourgeoisie towards it. In the interests of the 
political struggle, we must support every opposition to the 
oppressive autocracy, no matter on what grounds and in 
what social stratum it manifests itself. For that reason, we 
are by no means indifferent to the opposition expressed by 
our liberal bourgeoisie in general, and by our Zemstvo 
liberals in particular. If the liberals succeed in organising 
themselves in an illegal party, so much the better. We shall 
welcome the growth of political consciousness among the 
propertied classes; we will support their demands, we will 
endeavour to work so that the activities of the liberals and 
the Social-Democrats mutually supplement each other.* 
But even if they fail to do so (which is more probable), we 
shall not give them up as lost, we will endeavour to strength- 
en contacts with individual liberals, acquaint them with 
our movement, support them by exposing in the labour 
press all the despicable acts of the government and the local 
authorities, and try to induce them to support the revolu- 
tionaries. Such an exchange of services between liberals 
and Social-Democrats is already proceeding; it must be 
extended and made permanent. But while always ready to 
carry on this exchange of services, we will never, under 
any circumstances, cease to carry on a determined struggle 
against the illusions that are so widespread in the politi- 
cally undeveloped Russian society generally and among 
Russian liberals in particular. Paraphrasing the celebrated 
statement of Marx in regard to the Revolution of 1848, 
we may say of the Russian revolutionary movement that 
its progress lies, not so much in the achievement of any 
positive gains, as in emancipation from harmful illusions. 46 

* The present writer had occasion to point out the utility of a lib- 
eral party four years ago, in commenting upon the Narodnoye Pra- 
vo Party. 45 See The Tasks of the Russian Social-Democrats (Gene- 
va, 1898, p. 26): "... If, however, the party [Narodnoye Pravo] also 
contains not masquerade, but real non-socialist politicians, non- 
socialist democrats, then this party can do no little good by striving 
to draw closer to the political opposition among our bourgeoisie...." 
(See present edition, Vol. 2, p. 345.— Ed.) 



We have emancipated ourselves from the illusions of anarch- 
ism and Narodnik socialism, from contempt for politics, 
from the belief in the exceptionalist development of Rus- 
sia, from the conviction that the people are ready for rev- 
olution, and from the theory of the seizure of power and 
the duel-like combat between the autocracy and the heroic 

It is time our liberals emancipated themselves from the 
illusion, theoretically untenable, one might assume, yet 
very tenacious in practice, that it is still possible to hold 
parley with the Russian autocracy, that some kind of Zemst- 
vo is the embryo of a constitution, and that the sincere ad- 
herents of the constitution can fulfil their vow of Hannibal 
by patient legal activity and by patient appeals to the enemy 
to turn submissive. 



Labour unrest has once again been the subject of intense 
and widespread comment. The governing circles are alarmed, 
in all earnestness alarmed. This is evident from the 
fact that it was deemed necessary to "punish", by suspen- 
sion for a week, even Novoye Vremya, 41 that arch-loyal 
newspaper ever fawning on the authorities, for an article 
published in issue No. 9051 of May 11, entitled "Apropos 
of the Labour Unrest". Of course, the penalty was not in- 
flicted because of the contents of the article, which was 
replete with the warmest appreciation of the government 
and the sincerest concern for its interests. What was consid- 
ered dangerous was the very discussion of events that 
were "disturbing society", the mere reference to their ex- 
tensiveness and their importance. Below we give extracts 
from the secret circular (also dated May ll) 48 directing 
that press articles dealing with the disorders in the facto- 
ries and with the workers' attitude towards the employers 
be published only by permission of the Department of Po- 
lice, which proves better than all arguments that the gov- 
ernment itself is inclined to regard the labour unrest as a 
matter of state importance. The article in Novoye Vremya 
is of particular interest precisely for the reason that it 
outlines a complete state programme, which in effect 
amounts to allaying the discontent by a few petty and in 
part fictitious doles to which are attached pompous sign- 
boards about protective policy, cordiality, etc., and which 
provide pretexts for increasing surveillance by government 
officials. But this programme, which is not a new one, 
embodies, one may say, the "acme" of wisdom of modern 
statesmen, not only in Russia, but also in the West. In a 



society based on private property and the enslavement of 
millions of propertyless toilers by a handful of rich people, 
the government cannot be anything but the loyal friend 
and ally of the exploiters and the most reliable guardian 
of their power. In our times, guns, bayonets, and whips are 
not a sufficiently reliable guardian; it is necessary to con- 
vince the exploited that the government stands above 
classes, that it does not serve the interests of the aristocracy 
and the bourgeoisie, but those of justice, that it is concerned 
with protecting the weak and the poor against the rich and 
the powerful, etc. Napoleon III in France and Bismarck 
and Wilhelm II in Germany exerted no little effort to play 
up to the workers in this way. But in Europe, where there 
is a more or less free press, a representative government, 
electoral campaigns, and well-established political parties, 
all these hypocritical tricks were quickly exposed. In Asia, 
however, which includes Russia, where the masses of the 
people are so wretched and ignorant, and where there are 
such strong prejudices fostering faith in Our Father the 
Tsar, tricks of this kind are quite successful. One of the very 
characteristic signs that the European spirit is beginning 
to penetrate into Russia is the failure with which this policy 
has met in the last ten or twenty years. Over and over again 
it was tried, but each time, within a few years after the 
enactment of some "protective" (allegedly protective) la- 
bour law, there was a reversion to the old state of affairs — the 
number of discontented workers increased, ferment grew, 
unrest gained in scope — again the "protective" policy was 
announced with a blare of trumpets, again pompous phrases 
could be heard about heartfelt solicitude for the work- 
ers; another law was passed providing a penny's worth of 
benefit and a pound's worth of empty and lying words 
for the workers, and in a few years' time the whole business 
was repeated. The government was as frantic as a squirrel 
in a cage, and went to any lengths, in one form or another, 
to stop up the gaps with sops and shreds; but the discontent 
broke out in ever newer places with increasing vigour. 

Let us recall the outstanding points in the history of 
"labour legislation" in Russia. Towards the end of the sev- 
enties there were big strikes in St. Petersburg, and the 
socialists tried to take advantage of the situation to inten- 



sify their agitation. Alexander III included factory legis- 
lation in his so-called "popular" (but in fact aristocratic- 
police) policy. In 1882 the Factory Inspectorate was intro- 
duced and at first its reports were even published. The gov- 
ernment, of course, was not pleased with these reports and 
ceased their publication. The factory inspection laws proved 
to be merely a stopgap. Then came the years 1884-85; 
the industrial crisis gave rise to a powerful movement among 
the workers, and there were a number of turbulent strikes 
in the central district (the Morozov cotton-mill strike 49 
being particularly noteworthy). Again the "protective" 
policy was brought to the fore, this time advocated with 
particular zeal by Katkov in Moskovskiye Vedomosti. 50 
Katkov fumed and raged over the fact that the Morozov 
strikers were tried by a jury, and he described the hundred 
and one questions submitted by the court for the jury's 
decision as "a hundred-and-one gun salute in honour of the 
appearance of the labour question in Russia"; but, at the 
same time, he demanded that the "state" come to the de- 
fence of the workers and prohibit the monstrous system of 
fines that had ultimately aroused the Morozov cotton weav- 
ers to revolt. The law of 1886 was passed; it greatly wid- 
ened the powers of the Factory Inspectorate and prohibited 
the imposition of arbitrary fines to benefit the employers. 
Ten years passed, and again there was an outbreak of labour 
unrest. The strikes of 1895, particularly the great strike of 
1896, 51 caused the government to tremble with fear (espe- 
cially on account of the fact that the Social-Democrats 
were by then regularly marching shoulder to shoulder with 
the workers); with unprecedented celerity, it passed the "pro- 
tective" law (June 2, 1897) for a shorter working day. Dur- 
ing the discussion of the projected law in committee the 
officials of the Ministry of the Interior, including the direc- 
tor of the Department of Police, declared loudly that the 
factory workers must come to regard the government as their 
constant protector and their just and merciful patron (see 
the pamphlet The Secret Documents on the Law of June 2, 
1897 52 ). Although passed, the protective law is being cur- 
tailed and rendered ineffective on the sly through circulars 
issued by the selfsame government. Another industrial 
crisis sets in. The workers for the hundredth time are 



convinced that the "protection" of the police government 
cannot substantially alleviate their conditions, or give 
them liberty to look after themselves; again unrest and 
street fighting, again the government is anxious, again we 
hear police speeches about "state protection", this time 
proclaimed in Novoye Vremya. Gentlemen! Will you never 
tire of scooping up water with a sieve? 

No, the government, of course, will never tire of repeat- 
ing its attempts to intimidate the irreconcilable workers 
and decoy the weaker, the more foolish, and more cowardly, 
by means of a dole. Nor will we ever tire of exposing the real 
meaning of these attempts and of exposing "statesmen" 
who but yesterday ordered soldiers to shoot down the work- 
ers and today are shouting about protection; who but yes- 
terday talked about their justice and their patronage of the 
workers and today are seizing the best of the workers and 
intellectuals, one after another, and leaving them to the 
mercy of the police without trial. Therefore we consider 
it necessary to dwell on the "state programme" of Novoye 
Vremya in good time before some new "protective" law is 
promulgated. Moreover, the admissions made in this connec- 
tion by a publication so "authoritative" in the sphere of 
home politics as Novoye Vremya are worthy of attention. 

Novoye Vremya is compelled to admit that the "regret- 
table manifestations in the sphere of the labour question" 
are not accidental. Of course, the socialists, too, are respon- 
sible (the newspaper avoids mentioning the awful word 
"socialist", preferring such vague terms as "pernicious pseu- 
do-doctrines" and the "propaganda of anti-state and anti- 
social ideas"); but ... but why are the socialists so successful 
among the workers? Novoye Vremya, of course, does not 
miss an opportunity to hurl abuse at the workers: they are 
so "undeveloped and ignorant" that they willingly listen to 
the pernicious propaganda of the socialists, so harmful to 
the welfare of the police. Consequently, the socialists and 
the workers are to blame, and the gendarmes have long 
been waging a desperate war against the guilty, filling the 
prisons and places of exile. But to no avail. Apparently, 
there is something in the conditions of the factory workers 
which "engenders and fosters discontent with their present 
conditions" and thus "favours the success" of socialism. 



"The severe toil of the factory workers in extremely unfa- 
vourable conditions of life provides them with a bare sub- 
sistence for as long as they are able to work, and in every 
emergency when they are without work for any length of 
time, they find themselves in desperate straits, as, for exam- 
ple, the workers in the Baku oilfields described recently in 
the newspapers." Government supporters, thus, are compelled 
to admit that the success of socialism is due to the really 
bad conditions of the workers. But the admission is made 
in such a vague and evasive form, and with such reser- 
vations, that it is clear that people of this sort cannot pos- 
sibly have the slightest intention of touching the "sacred 
property" of the capitalists which oppresses the workers. 
"Unfortunately," writes Novoye Vremya, "we know too little 
about the actual state of affairs in regard to the labour 
question in Russia." Yes, unfortunately indeed! And "we" 
know little, precisely because we permit the police govern- 
ment to keep the whole press in slavery, to gag every one 
who honestly attempts to expose the scandalous state of 
affairs in our country. But "we" do try to turn the working 
man's hatred not against the Asiatic government but against 
the non-Russians. Novoye Vremya broadly hints at the "non- 
Russian factory managers", and calls them "coarse and 
greedy". Such a bait is likely to trap only the most ignorant 
and undeveloped workers, those who believe that all their 
misfortunes come from the "Germans" or the "Jews" and who 
do not know that the German and the Jewish workers unite 
to fight their German and Jewish exploiters. But even the 
workers who do not know this have learned from thousands 
of examples that the Russian capitalists are the "greediest" 
and most unceremonious of all capitalists, and that the 
Russian police and the Russian Government are the "coars- 
est" of all. 

Of interest, too, are Novoye Vremya' 's regrets that the 
workers are no longer so ignorant and submissive as is the 
peasantry. The paper bewails the fact that the workers 
"are abandoning their rural nests", that the "factory districts 
become the gathering centres of mixed masses", that the 
"villagers are abandoning their villages with their modest 
[that is the heart of the matter], but independent, social 
and economic interests and relationships". Indeed, they 



have something to bewail. "The villagers" are tied to 
their nests, and out of fear of losing them, dare not submit 
demands to their landlord, to threaten him with strikes, 
etc. The villagers do not know conditions in other places 
and are interested only in the affairs of their own ham- 
let (the supporters of the government call this the "inde- 
pendent interests" of the villager; knowing his place, not 
poking his nose into politics — what can please the author- 
ities more?); but in this hamlet, the local leech, the land- 
lord or the kulak, knows every single individual; the peasants 
have all inherited from their fathers and grandfathers the 
servile lesson of submission, and there is no one there to 
awaken consciousness in them. In the factory, however, 
the people are "mixed", are not tied to their nests (it is all 
the same to them where they work), they have seen and 
learned things, and are bold and full of interest in every- 
thing that is going on in the world. 

Notwithstanding this deplorable transformation of the 
humble muzhik into a class-conscious worker, our police 
wiseacres still hope to delude the working masses with 
phrases about "the state's protection of the workers' welfare". 
Novoye Vremya fortifies this hope with the following out- 
worn argument: "Capitalism, proud and all-powerful in the 
West, is still an infant in our country, it can walk only in 
leading strings, and these are provided by the government."... 
Now, only a humble peasant will believe this old song about 
the omnipotence of the authorities! The worker, however, 
sees all too often that the capitalists keep the police, the 
church, and the military and civil officials in "leading strings". 
And so, continues Novoye Vremya, the government "must 
insist" upon an improvement in the workers' conditions, 
i.e., it must demand this improvement of the employers. 
Simple, is it not? Issue an order, and, presto, the thing is 
done. But it is easy to talk; in point of fact, the orders of 
the authorities, even the most "modest", such as the estab- 
lishment of hospitals at the factories, have been ignored 
by the capitalists for whole decades. Moreover, the govern- 
ment would not dare to order the capitalists to do anything 
that would seriously affect the "sacred" right of private 
property. Furthermore, the government wants no serious 
improvement in the conditions of the workers, because in 



thousands of instances it is an employer itself and under- 
pays and oppresses the workers in the Obukhov Works and 
in hundreds of other places, as well as tens of thousands of 
postal and railway employees, etc., etc. Novoye Vremya, 
realising that no one would take the orders of our govern- 
ment seriously, tries to bolster up its position with lofty his- 
torical examples. This should be done, it says in regard to the 
improvement in the conditions of the workers, "in the same 
way as half a century ago, when the government took the 
peasant question in hand, when it was guided by the wise 
conviction that it would be better, through reforms from 
above, to avert the presentation of demands for such reforms 
from below and not to wait for such an eventuation". 

Now, this is really a valuable admission. Before the eman- 
cipation of the peasants, the tsar indicated to the nobility 
the possibility of a popular rebellion, saying that it would 
be better to emancipate from above than to wait until they 
began to emancipate themselves from below. And now this 
cringing newspaper admits that the mood of the workers 
fills it with a fear no less than did the mood of the peasants 
"on the eve of freedom". "Better from above than from be- 
low"! The autocracy's newspaper lackeys are profoundly 
mistaken if they think there is a "similarity" between the 
demands for reforms today and those of that time. The peas- 
ants demanded the abolition of serfdom, having nothing 
against the tsar's rule and believing in the tsar. The work- 
ers today are revolting first and foremost against the gov- 
ernment; they realise that their lack of rights under the 
police autocracy binds them hand and foot in their struggle 
against the capitalists and for that reason they demand 
liberation from governmental tyranny and governmental 
outrage. The workers are also in a state of unrest "on the 
eve of freedom", but this will be the liberation of the whole 
people, which is wresting political freedom from the despots. 

* * 

Do you know what great reform is proposed in order to 
hush the discontent of the workers and to demonstrate to 
them the "state's protection"? If persistent rumour is to be 
believed, a struggle is going on between the Ministry of 



Finance and the Ministry of the Interior. The latter demands 
that the Factory Inspectorate be placed under its control; 
for then, it argues, the factory inspectors will be less likely 
to indulge the capitalists and will show more regard for 
the interests of the workers and in this way avert unrest. 
Let the workers prepare for this new act of the tsar's grace; 
the factory inspectors will don different uniforms and they 
will be placed on the staff of another ministry (in all prob- 
ability with a rise in salary), the very ministry, indeed 
(especially the Department of Police), which for such a long 
time past has been demonstrating its love and solicitude 
for the workers. 

Iskra, No. 6, July 1901 

Published according to 
the Iskra text 



The commercial and industrial crisis has already dragged 
on for almost two years. Apparently it is still growing, 
spreading to new branches of industry and to new districts, 
and is becoming more acute as a result of the failure of more 
banks. Every issue of our newspaper since last December 
has in one form or another shown the development of the 
crisis and its disastrous effects. The time has come to raise 
the general question of the causes and the significance of 
this phenomenon. For Russia, it is a comparatively new 
phenomenon, as new as Russian capitalism. In the old 
capitalist countries — i.e., in the countries where the greatest 
part of the goods is produced for sale, and where the major- 
ity of the workers own neither land nor tools, but sell their 
labour-power to employers, to the owners of property, to 
those to whom the land, the factories, the machinery, etc., 
belong — in the capitalist countries, crises are an old phenom- 
enon, recurring from time to time, like attacks of a chronic 
disease. Hence, crises may be predicted, and when 
capitalism began to develop with particular rapidity in Rus- 
sia, the present crisis was predicted in Social-Democratic 
literature. The pamphlet The Tasks of the Russian Social- 
Democrats, written at the end of 1897, stated: "We are ap- 
parently now passing through the period in the capitalist 
cycle [a rotation, in which the same events repeat themselves 
like summer and winter] when industry is 'prospering', 
when business is brisk, when the factories are working at 
full capacity, and when countless new factories, new enter- 
prises, joint-stock companies, railway enterprises, etc., 
etc., are springing up like mushrooms. One need not be a 
prophet to foretell the inevitable and fairly sharp crash 



that is bound to succeed this period of industrial 'prosper- 
ity'. This crash will ruin masses of small owners, will 
throw masses of workers into the ranks of the unem- 
ployed...."* And the crash came with a severity unparal- 
leled in Russia. What is the cause of this horrible, chronic 
disease of capitalist society, which recurs so regularly 
that its coming can be forecast? 

Capitalist production cannot develop otherwise than 
by leaps and bounds — two steps forward and one step (and 
sometimes two) back. As we have said, capitalist produc- 
tion is production for sale, the production of commodities 
for the market. Production is conducted by individual cap- 
italists, each producing on his own and none of them able 
to say exactly what kind and what amount of commodities 
will be required on the market. Production is carried on 
haphazardly; each producer is concerned only in excelling 
the others. Quite naturally, therefore, the quantity of com- 
modities produced may not correspond to the market demand. 
This probability becomes particularly great when the enor- 
mous market is suddenly extended to new huge, unexplored 
territories. This was precisely the situation at the beginning of 
the industrial "boom" we experienced not so long ago. The 
capitalists of all Europe stretched out their paws towards that 
part of the globe inhabited by hundreds of millions of peo- 
ple, towards Asia, of which until recently only India and 
a small section of the coastal regions had been closely con- 
nected with the world market. The Transcaspian Railway 
began to "open up" Central Asia for the capitalists; the "Great 
Siberian Railway" (great, not only because of its length, 
but because of the unrestricted plunder of the Treasury by 
the contractors and the unrestricted exploitation of the 
workers who built it) opened up Siberia. Japan began to 
develop into an industrial nation and strove to make a breach 
in the Chinese Wall, opening the way to a choice mor- 
sel into which the capitalists of England, Germany, France, 
Russia, and even Italy immediately plunged their teeth. 
The construction of gigantic railways, the expansion of the 
world market, and the growth of commerce, all stimulated 
an unexpected revival of industry, an increase of new 

See present edition, Vol. 2, p. 346. — Ed. 



enterprises, a wild hunt for commodity markets, a hunt for 
profits, the floating of new companies, and the attraction 
to industry of masses of fresh capital, which consisted 
partly of the small savings of small capitalists. It is not 
surprising that this wild world-hunt for new and unknown 
markets led to a terrific crash. 

To obtain a clear idea of the nature of this hunt for mar- 
kets and profits, we must remember what giants took part 
in it. When we speak of "separate enterprises" and "individ- 
ual capitalists", we sometimes forget that, strictly speak- 
ing, these terms are inexact. In reality, only the appropri- 
ation of profit has remained individual but production itself 
has become social. Gigantic crashes have become possible 
and inevitable, only because powerful social productive 
forces have become subordinated to a gang of rich men, 
whose only concern is to make profits. We shall illustrate 
this by an example from Russian industry. Recently the 
crisis has spread to the oil industry, in which such enter- 
prises as the Nobel Brothers Oil Company are engaged. In 1899 
the company sold 163,000,000 poods of oil products to the 
value of 53,500,000 rubles, while in 1900 it sold 192,000,000 
poods to the value of 72,000,000 rubles. In one year, a sin- 
gle enterprise increased the value of its output by 18,500,000 
rubles! This "single enterprise" is maintained by the com- 
bined labour of tens and hundreds of thousands of workers 
engaged in extracting oil and refining it; in delivering it 
by pipeline, railways, seas, and rivers; and in making the 
necessary machinery, warehouses, materials, lighters, steam- 
ers, etc. These tens of thousands of workers work for the 
whole of society, but their labour is controlled by a handful 
of millionaires, who appropriate the entire profit earned 
by the organised labour of this mass of workers. (In 1899 
the Nobel Company made a net profit of 4,000,000 rubles, 
and in 1900 the figure was 6,000,000 rubles, of which the 
shareholders received 1,300 rubles per 5,000-ruble-share, 
with five members of the board of directors receiving bonuses 
to the amount of 528,000 rubles!) When several such enter- 
prises fling themselves into the wild chase for a place in an 
unknown market, is it surprising that a crisis sets in? 

Furthermore, for an enterprise to make profit, its goods 
must be sold, purchasers must be found. The purchasers 



of these goods must comprise the entire population, because 
these colossal enterprises produce whole mountains of goods. 
But nine-tenths of the population of all capitalist countries 
are poor; they are workers who receive extremely miserable 
wages and peasants who, in the main, live even worse than 
the workers. Now, when, in the period of a boom, the large 
industrial enterprises set out to produce as vast a quantity 
of goods as possible, they flood the market with such a huge 
quantity of goods that the majority of the population, being 
poor, cannot pay for them. The number of machines, tools, 
warehouses, railroads, etc., continues to grow. From time 
to time, however, this process of growth is interrupted be- 
cause the masses of the people for whom, in the last analy- 
sis, these improved instruments of production are intended, 
remain in a state of poverty that verges on beggary. The 
crisis shows that modern society could produce immeasur- 
ably more goods for the improvement of the living condi- 
tions of the entire working people, if the land, factories, 
machines, etc., had not been seized by a handful of private 
owners, who extract millions of profits out of the poverty 
of the people. The crisis shows that the workers should not 
confine themselves to the struggle for individual concessions 
from the capitalists. While industry is in upswing, such 
concessions may be won (the Russian workers on more than 
one occasion between 1894 and 1898 won concessions by 
energetic struggle); but when the crash comes, the capi- 
talists not only withdraw the concessions they made, but 
take advantage of the helpless position of the workers to 
force wages down still lower. And so things will inevitably 
continue until the army of the socialist proletariat over- 
throws the domination of capital and private property. The 
crisis shows how near-sighted were those socialists (who 
call themselves "Critics", probably because they borrow 
uncritically the doctrines of the bourgeois economists) 
who two years ago loudly proclaimed that crashes were 
becoming less and less probable. 

The lessons of the crisis, which has exposed the absurdity 
of subordinating social production to private property, 
are so instructive that even the bourgeois press is now 
demanding stricter supervision — e.g., over the banks. But 
no supervision will prevent the capitalists from setting up 



enterprises in times of boom which must inevitably become 
bankrupt later on. Alchevsky, the founder of a land and a 
commercial bank in Kharkov, both now bankrupt, acquired 
millions of rubles by fair means or foul for the purpose of 
establishing and maintaining mining and metallurgical en- 
terprises that promised wealth beyond the dreams of avarice. 
A hitch in industry wrecked these banks and mining and me- 
tallurgical enterprises (the Donets-Yuryev Company). But 
what does the "crash" of enterprises mean in capitalist society? 
It means that the smaller capitalists, capitalists of the "second 
magnitude", are eliminated by the big millionaires. The place 
of Alchevsky, the Kharkov millionaire, is taken by the 
Moscow millionaire, Ryabushinsky, who, being a richer 
capitalist, will bring greater pressure to bear on the workers. 
The supplanting of smaller capitalists by big capitalists, 
the increased power of capital, ruination of masses of small 
property-owners (e.g., small investors, who lose all their 
property in a bank crash), the frightful impoverishment of 
the workers — all this is brought about by the crisis. We 
recall also cases described in Iskra of capitalists lengthening 
the working day and discharging class-conscious workers 
in an effort to replace them by more submissive people 
from the villages. 

The effect of the crisis in Russia is, in general, ever so 
much greater than in any other country. Stagnation in in- 
dustry is accompanied by famine among the peasantry. 
Unemployed workers are being sent out of the towns to the 
villages, but where can the unemployed peasants be sent? 
By sending the workers to the villages, the authorities desire 
to clear the cities of the discontented people; but perhaps 
those sent out will be able to rouse at least part of the peas- 
antry from its age-long submission and induce it, not only 
to request, but to demand. The workers and peasants are 
being drawn closer to each other, not only by unemploy- 
ment and hunger, but also by police tyranny, which de- 
prives the workers of the possibility of uniting to defend 
their own interests and prevents even the aid of well-dis- 
posed people from reaching the peasantry. The heavy paw 
of the police is becoming a hundred times heavier for the 
millions of people who have lost all means of livelihood. The 
gendarmes and the police in the towns, the rural superin- 



tendents and the village policemen in the rural districts, 
see clearly that hatred against them is growing, and they are 
beginning to fear, not only the food-kitchens, set up in the 
villages, but even advertisements in the newspapers appeal- 
ing for funds. Afraid of voluntary contributions! In truth, 
the thief fears his own shadow. When the thief sees a passer- 
by offering alms to the man he has robbed, he begins to 
think that the two are shaking hands in a pledge to settle 
accounts with him. 

Iskra, No. 7, August 1901 

Published according to 
the Iskra text 



On June 8, 1901, a law was adopted governing the grants 
of state lands in Siberia to private persons. How this new 
law will be applied, the future will show; but its character 
is so instructive, it so strikingly demonstrates the undis- 
guised nature and the real strivings of the tsarist govern- 
ment, that it should be analysed thoroughly and made known 
as widely as possible among the working class and the 

Our government has long been granting doles to the no- 
ble, aristocratic landlords. It established for them the No- 
bles' Bank, it granted them all sorts of privileges in obtain- 
ing loans and relief in the payment of arrears, it helped 
them to arrange a strike of the millionaire sugar-refiners 
in order to raise prices and increase their profits; it took 
care to provide the ruined sons of the aristocracy with soft 
jobs as rural superintendents, and it is now arranging for 
the government purchase of vodka on very favourable terms 
for the noble distillers. However, in making grants of state 
lands, it not only makes gifts to the richest and most aris- 
tocratic exploiters, but creates a new class of exploiters 
and dooms millions of peasants and workers to permanent 
bondage to new landlords. 

Let us examine the principal features of the new law. It 
must be observed, first of all, that before its introduction 
in the Council of State by the Minister of Agriculture and 
State Property, the law was discussed at a special confer- 
ence on the affairs of the nobility. It is generally known that 
in Russia today it is not the workers and peasants, but the 
noble landlords who suffer most from poverty, and so this 
"special conference" hastened to devise measures by which 



their poverty might be relieved. State lands in Siberia will 
be sold and leased to "private persons" for the purpose of 
"private enterprise"; but foreigners and non-Russian sub- 
jects of the tsar (the Jews included among the latter) are 
prohibited for ever from acquiring these lands in any way. 
The lands may be leased (and we shall see that this is the 
most advantageous transaction for the future landlords) 
only to nobles, "who", as the law states, "owing to their eco- 
nomic reliability, are the most desirable landowners to have 
in Siberia from the standpoint of the government". Thus, 
the standpoint of the government is that the labouring pop- 
ulation must be enslaved to the big landed aristocracy. 
How big can be seen from the fact that salable allotments 
may not exceed three thousand dessiatines, while no limit 
at all is placed on the amount of land leased, and the term 
of the leases may be for a period up to ninety-nine yearsl 
According to the government's calculations, a poor landlord 
needs two hundred times as much land as a peasant, who is 
given fifteen dessiatines of land in Siberia for himself and 
his family. 

The easy terms and the exceptions to the rule which the 
law provides for the landlords are truly astounding. The 
lessee pays nothing for the first five years. If he purchases 
the land he has leased (which right the new law gives him), 
payment is spread over a period of thirty-seven years. With 
special permission, an area of land exceeding 3,000 dessia- 
tines may be set aside for sale, land may be sold at agreed 
prices and not by auction, while arrears may be postponed 
for one or even three years. It must not be forgotten that 
generally only the higher dignitaries and persons with court 
connections, etc., will take advantage of the new law — 
and such people will obtain these easy terms and the 
exemptions quite casually, in the course of a drawing- 
room conversation with a governor or a minister. 

But there's the rub! Of what use are these bits of land, 
three thousand dessiatines in area, to the landowning gener- 
als if there is no "muzhik" forced to work for these generals? 
However rapidly poverty is increasing among the people 
in Siberia, the local peasant is nevertheless much more in- 
dependent than the "Russian" peasant and he has not been 
trained to work under the bludgeon. The new law is intended 



to train him. "The lands appointed for private enter- 
prises shall, as far as possible, be divided into lots alternating 
with areas held by the peasant allotment holders", says Ar- 
ticle 4 of the new law. The tsarist government displays its 
solicitude for the poor peasants and tries to provide "means 
of livelihood" for them. Ten years ago, the same Mr. 
Yermolov who now, as Minister of Agriculture and State 
Property, has introduced into the Council of State the new 
Siberian land law providing for the disposal of state lands 
to private persons, wrote a book (anonymously) entitled 
The Crop Failure and the Distress of the People. In that 
work he openly declared that there was no reason for permit- 
ting peasants who could obtain "a livelihood" from their 
local landlords to migrate to Siberia. Russian statesmen 
do not hesitate to express purely feudal views; peasants were 
created to work for the landlords, and peasants, therefore, 
must not be "permitted" to migrate to a place of their choice, 
if thereby the landlords will be deprived of cheap labour. 
And when, despite all the difficulties, the red tape, and even 
the downright prohibition, the peasants still continued to 
migrate to Siberia in hundreds of thousands, the tsarist 
government, acting like the steward of an old-time manorial 
lord, hastened after them to work them to exhaustion in their 
new habitations. If, however, "alternating" with the puny 
peasant allotments* and peasant lands (the best of which are 
already occupied), there will be lots of three thousand dessia- 
tines belonging to the noble landlords, then all temptation to 
migrate to Siberia will disappear very soon. The more 
cramped the conditions of the surrounding peasants become, 
the more the new landlords' land will increase in value; 
the peasants will be obliged to hire themselves out cheaply, 
or lease land from the landlords at exorbitant rates — just 
as in "Russia". The new law sets out precisely to create as 
quickly as possible a new paradise for the landlords and a 
new hell for the peasants; there is a special clause on the 
leasing of land for a single season. While special permission 
is required to sublease state lands, it is permitted quite 

* By the terms of the 1861 reform, peasant allotments, unlike 
peasant lands, could not be sold. — TV. 



freely for one season. All that the landlord need trouble 
about is to engage a steward, who will sublease land by the des- 
siatine to the peasants living on the allotments "alternating" 
with the landlord's land, and send his master the net profit. 

Probably many nobles will not care to carry on even such 
an "enterprise". In that case, they can make a nice little 
pile at one stroke by reselling the state land to real farmers. 
It is no accident that the new law has been timed with the 
construction of a railroad in Siberia, when banishment to 
Siberia has been abolished, and when migration to Siberia 
has increased to an enormous extent; all this will inevi- 
tably lead (and is already leading) to a rise in land values. 
Hence, the granting of state lands to private persons at the 
present time is nothing more nor less than plunder of the 
Treasury by the nobles. The state lands are rising in value, 
but they are being leased or sold on highly advantageous 
terms to generals and people of that stripe, who will benefit 
by the rising prices. In Ufa Gubernia, for instance, in one 
uyezd alone, the nobles and officials made the following 
transaction in land sold to them (on the basis of a similar 
law): they paid the government 60,000 rubles for the land 
and within two years sold it for 580,000 rubles, obtaining 
for the mere resale more than hall a million rublesl From 
this instance we can imagine the millions of rubles that will 
pass into the pockets of the poverty-stricken landlords thanks 
to the land grants throughout Siberia. 

With all sorts of lofty arguments the government and 
its adherents seek to cover up this naked robbery. They 
talk about the development of culture in Siberia, and of 
the enormous importance of model farms. As a matter of 
fact, the large estates, which place the neighbouring peas- 
ants in a hopeless position, can at the present time serve 
only to develop the most uncultured methods of exploi- 
tation. Model farms are not established by robbing the 
Treasury, and the grant of lands will lead simply to land 
speculation among the nobles and officials, or to farming 
methods in which bondage and usury will flourish. The noble 
aristocrats, in alliance with the government, have prohib- 
ited Jews and other non-Russians (whom they try to pre- 
sent to the ignorant people as particularly outrageous ex- 
ploiters) from acquiring state lands in Siberia, in order 



that they may themselves engage in the worst type of exploi- 
tation without hindrance. 

There is talk also of the political significance of having 
the social-estate of landed nobility in Siberia; among the 
intelligentsia, it is said, there is a very large number of 
former exiles, of unreliable people there, who need to be coun- 
terbalanced by the establishment of a reliable support of the 
state, a reliable "local" element. This talk contains a greater 
and profounder truth than Grazhdanin 5S and Moskovskiye 
Vedomosti imagine. The police state is arousing so much 
hostility against itself among the masses that it finds it 
necessary artificially to create groups that can serve as 
pillars of the fatherland. It is essential for the government 
to create a class of big exploiters, who would be under ob- 
ligation to it for everything and dependent upon its grace, 
who would make enormous profits by the most despicable 
methods (speculation and kulak exploitation), and, conse- 
quently, could always be relied upon to support every tyr- 
anny and oppression. The Asiatic government must find 
support in Asiatic large landownership, in a feudal system 
of "granting lands". And if it is not possible at present to 
grant "populated estates", it is possible at all events to grant 
estates alternating with the lands of peasants who are becom- 
ing more and more destitute. If it is not convenient simply 
to grant thousands of dessiatines of land gratis to the Court 
lickspittles, it is possible to cover up this wholesale bestow- 
al of lands by their sale or "leasing" (for 99 years) that 
is attended by thousands of privileges. When we compare 
this land policy with that of modern progressive countries 
like America, for example, can we call it anything else 
but feudal? In America, no one would dare talk about 
permitting or not permitting migration; for in that coun- 
try, every citizen has the right to go where he pleases. 
In that country every one who desires to engage in farming 
has the right by law to occupy vacant land in the outlying 
parts of the country. In America, they are not creating a 
class of Asiatic satraps, but a class of energetic farmers 
who have developed the productive forces of the country. 
Thanks to the abundant free land there, the working 
class in America enjoys the highest standard of living in the 



And what a period our government has chosen for passing 
this serf-owners' law! It is a period of the most acute indus- 
trial crisis, when tens and hundreds of thousands are unem- 
ployed, when millions of peasants are again suffering from 
famine. The government has exerted all its efforts to 
prevent the disaster from being given "publicity". That is why 
it has sent the unemployed workers back to their village 
homes; that is why it has transferred food distribution from 
the Zemstvos to the police officials; that is why it has pro- 
hibited private persons from organising food-kitchens for 
the famine-stricken; and that is why it has gagged the press. 
But when the famine "publicity", so unpleasant to the ears 
of the well-fed, died down, Our Father the Tsar set to work 
to assist the poverty-stricken landlords and poor unfortu- 
nate courtier generals. We repeat, our task at the present 
time is simply to bring the contents of this new law to the 
knowledge of all. As they become acquainted with it, the 
most undeveloped sections of the workers, and the most 
backward and downtrodden peasants, will understand whom 
the present government serves and what kind of government 
the people must have. 

Iskra, No. 8, September 10, 1901 Published according to 

the Iskra text 



The wave of excitement among the general public that 
spread over the country after the events of this spring is 
not receding. It makes itself felt in one form or another 
among all sections of Russian society, a society that as 
recently as January of this year seemed to be deaf and alien 
to the purposive work of Russian Social-Democracy. The 
government is bending its every effort to calm the troubled 
public conscience as quickly as possible with the usual 
soap bubbles such as the Manifesto of March 25 on "heart- 
felt protection", such as the so-called Vannovsky Reforms 
or the Sipyagin and Shakhovskoi 54 solemn buffoon tours 
of Russia.... Some of the more naive among the general 
public will actually be calmed by such measures, but by 
far not all. Even the present-day Zemstvo people, about 
fifty per cent of whom are scared civil servants, seem to be 
coming out of the state of chronic trepidation to which they 
were reduced in the now historical stagnant epoch of the 

His Majesty the Bureaucracy, having now shed its crude 
covering of modesty, is arousing feelings of discontent and 
disgust even among the Zemstvos, among those timid peo- 
ple in whom civic courage and civic morality are almost 
completely atrophied. 

We have been informed that in the city of X (for precau- 
tion, to remain unnamed) a congress of Zemstvo members 
was called at the end of June. It is said to have been attend- 
ed by 40 or 50 Zemstvo people from several gubernias. 

These people did not, of course, assemble to discuss po- 
litical questions, but to solve peaceable, purely Zemstvo 
problems; they gathered "without infringing the bounds of 



the department and the extent of their authority", as it is 
picturesquely expressed in the Zemstvo Instructions (Ar- 
ticle 87). The meeting, however, was called without the per- 
mission and knowledge of the administration and, conse- 
quently, was held "in contravention of the Instructions for 
the activities of Zemstvo institutions", to quote the Instruc- 
tions, and the assembled Zemstvo men gradually went over 
from the discussion of peaceable, innocent questions to a dis- 
cussion of the general state of affairs. Such is the logic of 
life: conscientious Zemstvo men, howsoever they at times de- 
nounce radicalism and illegal work, are, by the force of events, 
faced with the necessity of illegal organisation and a more 
determined form of activity. Far be it from us to condemn 
this natural and perfectly correct path. It is time, at long 
last, for Zemstvo members to give an energetic and organ- 
ised rebuff to a government that has taken the bit between 
its teeth, has killed rural self-government, has mutilated 
both urban and Zemstvo self-government, and with asinine 
obstinacy lays the axe to the last remnants of the Zemstvo 
institutions. It is said that one of the elderly and respected 
men of the Zemstvo, during the discussion at the congress 
on the question of how to combat the law setting limits to 
taxation by the Zemstvos, exclaimed: "Zemstvo members 
must, at last, say their word; for if they don't, they'll never 
be able to!" We are in complete agreement with the outcry 
of this liberal who is prepared to challenge the bureaucrat- 
ic autocracy to open struggle. The Zemstvos are on the eve 
of internal bankruptcy. If the best Zemstvo men do not to- 
day take energetic measures, if they do not get rid of their 
usual Manilov 55 attitude, their trivial questions of second- 
ary importance — "tinkering", as one venerable Zemstvo 
man put it — the Zemstvos will lose their adherents and turn 
into the usual "government offices". Such an inglorious 
death is inevitable; for one cannot with impunity for whole 
decades do nothing but show cowardice, offer thanks, and 
humbly petition; one must threaten, demand, stop wasting 
time on trifles, and settle down to the real work. 

Iskra, No. 8, September 10, 1901 

Published according to 
the Iskra text 


Written in June-September 1901 

Chapters I to IV were first published 
in Zarya, No. 2-3, December 1901, 
signed N. Lenin; Chapters V to IX 
were published in Obrazovanijefil 
No. 2, February 1906, signed 
N. Lenin 

Published according to the Zarya 
and Obrazovaniye texts, checked 
with the text of the collection The 
Agrarian Question, by VI. Ilyin, 








Tnno-»rorpa*U R M. B<wii,*». Pmi3*u, \h. 

Facsimile of the title-page of the magazine Obrazovaniye, No. 2, 
for 1906 which carried chapters V-IX of Lenin's 
'"The Agrarian Question and the "Critics of Marx'". 


"... To argue ... that dogmatic Marxism has been jolted 
from its positions in the sphere of agrarian questions would 
be like forcing an open door...." So spoke Russkoye Bogatst- 
vo 5S last year through the mouth of Victor Chernov (1900, 
No. 8, p. 204). What a peculiar quality this "dogmatic Marx- 
ism" possesses! For many years now scientists and very 
learned people in Europe have been gravely declaring (and 
newspaper scribes and journalists have been repeating it 
over and over again) that Marxism has been jolted from its 
positions by "criticism", and yet every new critic starts 
from the beginning, all over again, to bombard these al- 
legedly destroyed positions. Mr. Chernov, for example, in 
the periodical Russkoye Bogatstvo, as well as in the collec- 
tion, At the Glorious Post, in a two-hundred-and-forty- 
page-long "discussion" of Hertz' work* with his 
reader, "forces an open door". Hertz' work, which has been 
given such a lengthy exposition, is itself a review of 
Kautsky's book, and has been translated into Russian. Mr. 
Bulgakov, in keeping with his promise to refute this very 
same Kautsky, has published a whole two-volume study. 
Now, surely, no one will ever be able to find the remnants 
of "dogmatic Marxism", which lies crushed to death beneath 
this mountain of critical printed matter. 



Let us first of all examine the general theoretical physiog- 
nomy of the Critics. Mr. Bulgakov published an article in 
the periodical Nachalo 59 criticising Kautsky's Agrarian 

See present volume, footnote to p. 130 — TV. 



Question in which he at once exposed his stock of "critical" 
methods. He charged down on Kautsky with the dash and 
abandon of a veritable cavalier and "scattered" him to the 
winds. He put into Kautsky's mouth what he had not said, 
he accused him of ignoring the very circumstances and argu- 
ments which he, Kautsky, had expounded with precision, 
and he presented to the reader as his own the critical conclu- 
sions drawn by Kautsky. With the air of an expert, Mr. 
Bulgakov accused Kautsky of confounding technology with 
economics, and in doing so betrayed, not only incredible 
confusion, but also a disinclination to read to the end the 
page he quotes from his opponent's book. Needless to say, 
this article from the pen of the future professor is replete 
with outworn gibes against socialists, against the "theory 
of collapse", against utopianism, against belief in miracles, 
etc.* Now, in his doctoral thesis (Capitalism and Agri- 
culture, St. Petersburg, 1900), Mr. Bulgakov settled all 
his accounts with Marxism and brought his "critical" evolu- 
tion to its logical conclusion. 

Mr. Bulgakov makes the "law of diminishing returns" 
the corner-stone of his "theory of agrarian development". 
We are treated to quotations from the works of the classics 
who established this "law" (according to which each addi- 
tional investment of labour and capital in land produces, 
not a corresponding, but a diminishing quantity of products). 
We are given a list of the English economists who recognise 
this law. We are assured that it "has universal significance", 
that it is "an evident and absolutely undeniable truth", 
"which needs only to be stated clearly", etc., etc. The more 
emphatically Mr. Bulgakov expresses himself, the clearer 
it becomes that he is retreating to bourgeois political econ- 
omy, which obscures social relationships by imaginary 
"eternal laws". Indeed, what does the "evidentness" of the 
notorious "law of diminishing returns" amount to? If each 
successive investment of labour and capital in land pro- 
duced, not a diminishing, but an equal quantity of products, 

* I replied immediately to Mr. Bulgakov's article in Nachalo 
by an article entitled "Capitalism in Agriculture". Following the 
suppression of Nachalo, my article was published in Zhizn, 60 1900, 
Nos. 1 and 2. (Author's note to the 1908 edition. — Ed.) (See present 
edition, Vol. 4, pp. 105-59.— Ed.) 


there would be no sense in extending the area of land under 
cultivation; additional quantities of grain would be pro- 
duced on the same plot of land, however small, and "it would 
be possible to carry on the agriculture of the whole globe 
upon one dessiatine of land". This is the customary {and 
the only) argument advanced in favour of this "universal" 
law. A little thought, however, will prove to anyone that 
this argument is an empty abstraction, which ignores the 
most important thing — the level of technological develop- 
ment, the state of the productive forces. Indeed, the very 
term "additional (or successive) investments of labour and 
capital" presupposes changes in the methods of production, 
reforms in technique. In order to increase the quantity of 
capital invested in land to any considerable degree, new 
machinery must be invented, and there must be new meth- 
ods of land cultivation, stock breeding, transport of prod- 
ucts, and so on and so forth. Of course, "additional invest- 
ments of labour and capital" may and do take place on a 
relatively small scale even when the technique of production 
has remained at the same level. In such cases, the "law of 
diminishing returns" is applicable to a certain degree, i.e., 
in the sense that the unchanged technique of production 
imposes relatively very narrow limits upon the investment 
of additional labour and capital. Consequently, instead of 
a universal law, we have an extremely relative "law" — so 
relative, indeed, that it cannot be called a "law", or even a 
cardinal specific feature of agriculture. Let us take for grant- 
ed: the three-field system, cultivation of traditional grain 
crops, maintenance of cattle to obtain manure, lack of im- 
proved grassland and improved implements. Obviously, 
assuming that these conditions remain unchanged, the pos- 
sibilities of investing additional labour and capital in 
the land are extremely limited. But even within the narrow 
limits in which some investment of additional labour and 
capital is still possible, a decrease in the productivity of 
each such additional investment will not always and not 
necessarily be observed. Let us take industry — flour-milling 
or ironworking, for example, in the period preceding world 
trade and the invention of the steam-engine. At that level 
of technical development, the limits to which additional 
labour and capital could be invested in a blacksmith's forge, 



or in a wind- or water-mill, were very restricted; the inevi- 
table thing that happened was that small smithies and flour- 
mills continued to multiply and increase in number until 
the radical changes in the methods of production created 
a basis for new forms of industry. 

Thus, the "law of diminishing returns" does not at all 
apply to cases in which technology is progressing and meth- 
ods of production are changing; it has only an extremely 
relative and restricted application to conditions in which 
technology remains unchanged. That is why neither Marx 
nor the Marxists speak of this "law", and only representa- 
tives of bourgeois science like Brentano make so much noise 
about it, since they are unable to abandon the prejudices 
of the old political economy, with its abstract, eternal, and 
natural laws. 

Mr. Bulgakov defends the "universal law" by arguments 
deserving only of ridicule. 

"What was formerly a free gift of Nature must now be pro- 
duced by man: the wind and the rain broke up the soil, 
which was full of nutritive elements, and only a little effort 
on the part of man was required to produce what was needed. 
In the course of time, a larger and larger share of the produc- 
tive work fell to man. As is the case everywhere, artificial 
processes more and more take the place of natural processes. 
But while in industry this expresses man's victory over Na- 
ture, in agriculture it indicates the increasing difficulties 
of an existence for which Nature is diminishing her 

"In the present case it is immaterial whether the increas- 
ing difficulty of producing food is expressed in an increase 
in human labour or in an increase of its products, such 
as instruments of production, fertilisers [Mr. Bulgakov 
wishes to say that it is immaterial whether the increasing 
difficulty of producing food finds expression in an increased 
expenditure of human labour or in an increase in the 
products of human labour]; what is important is that food 
becomes more and more costly to man. This substitution 
of human labour for the forces of Nature and of artificial 
factors of production for natural factors is the law of dimin- 
ishing returns" (16). 

Evidently, Mr. Bulgakov is envious of the laurels of 



Messrs. Struve and Tugan-Baranovsky, who arrived at the 
conclusion that it is not man who works with the help of 
machines, but machines that work with the help of man. 
And like those critics, he sinks to the level of vulgar polit- 
ical economy by talking about the forces of Nature being 
superseded by human labour, and so forth. Speaking gener- 
ally, it is as impossible for human labour to supersede the 
forces of Nature as it is to substitute pounds for yards. Both 
in industry and in agriculture, man can only utilise the 
forces of Nature when he has learned how they operate, and 
he can facilitate this utilisation by means of machinery, 
tools, etc. That primitive man obtained all he required 
as a free gift of Nature is a silly fable for which Mr. Bulga- 
kov would be howled down even by first-term students. 
Our age was not preceded by a Golden Age; and primitive 
man was absolutely crushed by the burden of existence, 
by the difficulties of the struggle against Nature. The in- 
troduction of machinery and of improved methods of pro- 
duction immeasurably eased man's struggle against Nature 
generally, and the production of food in particular. It has 
not become more difficult to produce food; it has become 
more difficult for the workers to obtain it because capital- 
ist development has inflated ground-rent and the price of 
land, has concentrated agriculture in the hands of large and 
small capitalists, and, to a still larger extent, has concen- 
trated machinery, implements, and money, without which 
successful production is impossible. To explain the aggra- 
vation of the workers' condition by the argument that Na- 
ture is reducing her gifts can mean only that one has become 
a bourgeois apologist. 

"In accepting this law," continues Mr. Bulgakov, "we 
do not in the least assert that there is a continuously 
increasing difficulty in food production; nor do we deny 
progress in agriculture. To assert the first, and to deny the 
second, would be contrary to obvious facts. This difficulty 
does not grow uninterruptedly, of course; development 
proceeds in zigzag fashion. Discoveries in agronomics and 
technical improvements convert barren into fertile land and 
temporarily remove the tendency indicated by the law of 
diminishing returns" (ibid.). 

Profound, is it not? 



Technical progress is a "temporary" tendency, while the 
law of diminishing returns, i.e., diminishing productivity 
(and that not always) of additional investments of capital 
on the basis of an unchanging technique, "has universal 
significance"! This is equal to saying that the stopping of 
trains at stations represents the universal law of steam 
transport, while the motion of trains between stations is a 
temporary tendency paralysing the operation of the univer- 
sal law of immobility. 

Finally, extensive data clearly refute the univer- 
sality of the law of diminishing returns — data on the agri- 
cultural as well as the non-agricultural population. Mr. 
Bulgakov himself admits that "if each country were re- 
stricted to its own natural resources, the procuring of food 
would call for an uninterrupted relative increase [note this!] 
in the quantity of labour and, consequently, in the agricul- 
tural population" (19). The diminution in the agricultural 
population of Western Europe, accordingly, is explained 
by the fact that the operation of the law of diminishing re- 
turns has been counteracted by the importation of grain. 

An excellent explanation, indeed! Our pundit has forgot- 
ten a detail, namely, that a relative diminution in the ag- 
ricultural population is common to all capitalist countries, 
both agricultural and grain-importing. The agricultural 
population is relatively diminishing in America and in Rus- 
sia. It has been diminishing in France since the end of the 
eighteenth century (see figures in the same work of Mr. 
Bulgakov, II, p. 168). Moreover, the relative diminution 
of the agricultural population sometimes becomes an ab- 
solute diminution, whereas the excess of grain imports 
over exports was still quite insignificant in the thirties and 
forties, and only after 1878 do we cease to find years in which 
grain exports exceed grain imports.* In Prussia there was a 
relative diminution in the agricultural population from 
73.5 per cent in 1816 to 71.7 per cent in 1849, and to 67.5 
per cent in 1871, whereas the importation of rye began only 
in the early sixties, and the importation of wheat in the 
early seventies (ibid., Part II, pp. 70 and 88). Finally, if 

* Statistique agricole de la France. Enquete de 1892, Paris, 1897, 
p. 113. (Agricultural Statistics of France. Survey of 1892. — Ed.) 



we take the European grain-importing countries, e.g., 
France and Germany during the last decade, we shall find 
that there has been undoubted progress in agriculture side 
by side with an absolute diminution in the number of work- 
ers engaged in farming. In France this number dropped 
from 6,913,504 in 1882 to 6,663,135 in 1892 (Statistique 
agricole, Part II, pp. 248-51), and in Germany from 
8,064,000 in 1882 to 8,045,000 in 1895.* Thus, it may 
be said that the entire history of the nineteenth century, 
by a multitude of data on countries of the most varied 
character, proves irrefutably that the "universal" law of 
diminishing returns is absolutely paralysed by the "temporary" 
tendency of technological advance which enables a rela- 
tively (and sometimes absolutely) diminishing rural popu- 
lation to produce an increasing quantity of agricultural 
products for an increasing mass of population. 

Incidentally, this mass of statistical data also refutes 
the two following main points of Mr. Bulgakov's "theory": 
first, his assertion that the theory that constant capital (im- 
plements and materials of production) grows more rapidly 
than variable capital (labour-power) "is absolutely inapplic- 
able to agriculture". With an air of importance Mr. Bulga- 
kov declares that this theory is wrong, and in proof of his 
opinion refers to: (a) "Professor A. Skvortsov" (celebrated 
mostly for having ascribed Marx's theory of the average 

* Statistik des Deutschen Reichs, Neue Folge, Bd. 112: Die Land- 
wirtschaft im Deutschen Reich (Statistics of the German Empire, 
New Series, Vol. 112: Agriculture in the German Empire. — Ed.), 
Berlin, 1898, S. 6 *. This evidence of technological advance accom- 
panied by a diminution in the agricultural population is of course 
not at all pleasing to Mr. Bulgakov, for it utterly destroys his Mal- 
thusianism. Our "strict scientist", therefore, resorts to the following 
trick: instead of taking agriculture in the strict sense of the term (land 
cultivation, livestock breeding, etc.), he (after adducing statistics 
on the increase in the quantity of agricultural produce obtained per 
hectare!) takes "agriculture in the broad sense", in which German sta- 
tistics include hothouse cultivation, market gardening, and forestry 
and fishing] In this way, we get an increase in the sum-total of per- 
sons actually engaged in "agriculture"!! (Bulgakov, II, p. 133.) The 
figures quoted above apply to persons for whom agriculture is the prin- 
cipal occupation. The number of persons engaged in agriculture as a 
subsidiary occupation increased from 3,144,000 to 3,578,000. To add 
these to the previous figures is not entirely correct; but even if we 
do this, the increase is very small: from 11,208,000 to 11,623,000. 



rate of profit to ill-intentioned propaganda); and (b) the 
fact that under intensive farming the number of workers 
employed per unit of land increases. This is an example 
of the deliberate refusal to understand Marx which fashion- 
able Critics constantly display. Think of it: the theory of 
the more rapid growth of constant capital as compared with 
variable capital is refuted by the increase of variable capital 
per unit of land! And Mr. Bulgakov fails to notice that the 
very statistics he himself offers in such abundance confirm 
Marx's theory. In German agriculture as a whole the number 
of workers employed diminished from 8,064,000 in 1882 
to 8,045,000 in 1895 (and if the number of persons engaged 
in agriculture as a subsidiary occupation is added, it in- 
creased from 11,208,000 to 11,623,000, i.e., only by 3.7 per 
cent). In the same period, livestock increased from 23,000,000 
to 25,400,000 (all livestock expressed in terms of cattle), 
i.e., by more than 10 per cent; the number of cases in which 
the five most important agricultural machines were employed 
increased from 458,000 to 922,000, i.e., more than dou- 
bled; the quantity of fertilisers imported increased from 
636,000 tons (1883) to 1,961,000 tons (1892), and the quan- 
tity of potassium salts from 304,000 double centners to 
2,400,000.* Is it not clear from this that constant capital 
has increased in relation to variable capital? This, quite 
apart from the fact that these summary figures to a great 
extent conceal the progress of large-scale production. We 
shall deal with this point later. 

Secondly, the progress of agriculture simultaneously with 
a diminution, or a negligible absolute increase, in the agri- 
cultural population completely refutes Mr. Bulgakov's 
absurd attempt to revive Malthusianism. The first of the 
Russian "ex-Marxists" to make this attempt was probably 
Mr. Struve, in his Critical Remarks; but he, as always, nev- 
er went beyond hesitant, half-expressed, and ambiguous 
remarks, which he did not carry to their logical conclusion 
or round off into a complete system of views. Mr. Bulgakov, 
however, is bolder and more consistent; he unhesitatingly 
converts the "law of diminishing returns" into "one of the 

* Statistik des Deutschen Reichs, Bd. 112, S. 36*; Bulgakov, 
II, 135. 



most important laws of the history of civilisation" (sic! 
p. 18). "The entire history of the nineteenth century ... with 
its problems of riches and poverty would be unintelligible 
without this law." "I have not the least doubt that the so- 
cial question as it is posed today is materially linked with 
this law." (Our strict scientist hastens to make this decla- 
ration on page 18 of his "Inquiry"!)... "There is no doubt," 
he declares at the end of his work, "that where over-popula- 
tion exists, a certain part of the poverty that prevails must 
be put under the heading of absolute poverty, the poverty 
of production and not of distribution" (II, 221). "The popu- 
lation problem, in the special form in which it presents 
itself to us as a result of the conditions of agricultural pro- 
duction, is, in my opinion, the principal obstacle — at the 
present time at any rate — in the way of any extensive appli- 
cation of the principles of collectivism or co-operation in 
agricultural enterprise" (II, 265). "The past leaves to the 
future a heritage in the shape of a grain problem more ter- 
rible and more difficult than the social problem — the prob- 
lem of production and not of distribution" (II, 455), and so 
on and so forth. There is no need for us to discuss the scien- 
tific significance of this "theory", which is inseparably con- 
nected with the universal law of diminishing returns, since 
we have already examined this law. The fact that critical 
flirtation with Malthusianism in its logical development 
has inevitably resulted in a descent to the most vulgar 
bourgeois apologetics is proved by the above-quoted argu- 
ments, which Mr. Bulgakov has presented with a frankness 
that leaves nothing to be desired. 

In a further essay we shall examine data from several new 
sources cited by our Critics (who constantly din into our 
ears that orthodox Marxists fear specification) and show 
that Mr. Bulgakov generally stereotypes the word "over- 
population", the use of which relieves him of the necessity 
of making any kind of analysis, particularly of analysing 
the class antagonisms among the "peasantry". Here we shall 
confine ourselves to the general theoretical aspect of the ag- 
rarian question and touch on the theory of rent. "As for 
Marx," writes Mr. Bulgakov, "we must say that in Volume III 
of Capital, in the form in which we have it now, he adds 
nothing worthy of attention to Ricardo's theory of differ- 



ential rent" (87). Let us bear this "nothing worthy of atten- 
tion" in mind and compare the Critic's verdict with the follow- 
ing statement made by him previously: "Notwithstanding 
his obvious opposition to this law [the law of diminishing 
returns], Marx appropriates, in its fundamental princi- 
ples, Ricardo's theory of rent, which is based on this law" 
(13). Thus, according to Mr. Bulgakov, Marx failed to see 
the connection between Ricardo's theory of rent and the law 
of diminishing returns, and therefore he never carried his 
argument to its logical conclusion! In regard to such a state- 
ment we can say but one thing — that no one distorts Marx 
to the degree that the ex-Marxists do and no one is so incred- 
ibly un... un... unabashed in ascribing to the writer he is 
criticising a thousand and one mortal sins. 

Mr. Bulgakov's assertion is a glaring distortion of the 
truth. Actually, Marx not only saw the connection between 
Ricardo's theory of rent and his erroneous doctrine of di- 
minishing returns, but quite definitely exposed Ricardo's 
error. Anyone who has read Volume III of Capital with 
even a grain of "attention" could not but have observed the 
fact, very much "worthy of attention", that it was precisely 
Marx who freed the theory of differential rent from all 
connection with the notorious "law of diminishing returns". 
Marx demonstrated that the unequal productivity of differ- 
ent investments of capital in land was all that was neces- 
sary for the formation of differential rent. The question as 
to whether the transition is from better land to worse land or 
vice versa, as to whether the productivity of the additional 
investments of capital in land diminishes or increases, is 
absolutely immaterial. In actual practice, all sorts of com- 
binations of these varying cases take place; and it is utter- 
ly impossible to subject these combinations to a single gen- 
eral rule. For example, Marx first of all describes the first 
form of differential rent, which arises from the unequal 
productivity of capital invested in unequal plots of land, 
and he explains his case by tables (concerning which Mr. 
Bulgakov severely rebukes Marx for his "excessive predi- 
lection for clothing what are often very simple thoughts 
in a complicated mathematical garb". This complicated 
mathematical garb is simply the four rules of arithmetic, 
and the very simple ideas, as we see, were completely mis- 



understood by our learned professor). After analysing these 
tables, Marx draws the conclusion: "This takes care of the 
first false assumption regarding differential rent — still 
found among West, Malthus, and Ricardo — namely, that 
it necessarily presupposes a movement toward worse and 
worse soil, or an ever-decreasing fertility of the soil. It 
can be formed, as we have seen, with a movement toward 
better and better soil; it can be formed when a better soil 
takes the lowest position that was formerly occupied by the 
worst soil; it can be connected with a progressive improve- 
ment in agriculture. The precondition is merely the in- 
equality of different kinds of soil." (Marx does not speak here 
of the unequal productivity of successive investments of 
capital in land, because this gives rise to the second form of 
differential rent; in this chapter he speaks only of the first 
form of differential rent.) "So far as the increase in produc- 
tivity is concerned, it [differential rent — Ed.] assumes 
that the increase in absolute fertility of the total area does 
not eliminate this inequality, but either increases it, leaves 
it unchanged, or merely reduces it" (Das Kapital, III, 2, 
S. 199). 61 Mr. Bulgakov failed to see the radical difference 
between Marx's theory of differential rent and Ricardo's 
theory of rent. He preferred to rummage in Volume III of 
Capital for "a fragment which would rather suggest the idea 
that Marx was by no means opposed to the law of diminish- 
ing returns" (p. 13, footnote). We apologise to the reader 
for having to devote so much space to a passage that is quite 
immaterial to the question that concerns us and Mr. Bul- 
gakov. But what can one do when the heroes of modern crit- 
icism (who have the insolence to charge orthodox Marx- 
ists with resorting to rabulous disputation) distort the 
absolutely clear meaning of a doctrine to which they are op- 
posed by quoting passages out of context and in faulty trans- 
lations? Mr. Bulgakov quotes the passage that he found as 
follows: "From the standpoint of the capitalist mode of pro- 
duction, a relative increase in the price of (agricultural) 
products always takes place, since [we ask the reader to pay 
particular attention to the words we have italicised] these 
products cannot be secured unless an expenditure is in- 
curred, a payment made, which was not previously made." 
Marx goes on to say that elements of Nature entering as 



agents into production, costing nothing, represent a free 
gift of Nature's productive power of labour; but if for the 
production of an additional product it is necessary to work 
without the help of this natural power, a new capital outlay 
is required, which leads to an increase in the cost of pro- 

Concerning this mode of "quoting" we have three remarks 
to make. First, Mr. Bulgakov himself introduced the word 
"since", which gives his tirade the definite sense of establish- 
ing some kind of "law". In the original (Das Kapital, III, 
2, S. 277-78) 62 Marx does not say "since" but "when". When 
something is paid for which formerly did not have to be paid 
for, there is a relative increase in the price of the product. 
Is that proposition anything like a recognition of the "law" 
of diminishing returns? Secondly, Mr. Bulgakov inserts in 
parentheses the word "agricultural". In the original text 
the word does not appear at all. In all probability, with 
the frivolousness characteristic of the Critics, Mr. Bul- 
gakov decided that in this passage Marx could be speaking 
only of agricultural products, and therefore hastened to give 
his readers an "explanation" that is a complete misrepresen- 
tation. In point of fact, Marx in this passage speaks of prod- 
ucts generally; in the original, the passage quoted by Mr. 
Bulgakov is preceded by the words: "But, in general, the 
following is to be noted." Freely bestowed natural forces 
may also enter into industrial production — in the same 
section on rent Marx gives the example of a waterfall which 
for a certain factory takes the place of steam power — and 
if it is necessary to manufacture an additional quantity 
of products without the aid of these freely bestowed natural 
forces, there will always be a relative increase in the price 
of the products. Thirdly, we must examine the context in 
which this passage occurs. Marx discusses in this chapter 
differential rent obtained from the worst cultivated soil, 
and he examines as always two absolutely equivalent, 
two absolutely equally possible cases: the first case — increas- 
ing productivity of successive investments of capital 
(S. 274-76), 63 and the second case — decreasing productivity 
of such investments (S. 276-78). 64 In regard to the second 
of the possible cases, Marx says: "Concerning decreasing 
productiveness of the soil with successive investments of 



capital, see Liebig.... But, in general, the following is to 
be noted" (our italics). There follows the passage "trans- 
lated" by Mr. Bulgakov, stating that when what was for- 
merly obtained gratis has now to be paid for, there is 
always a relative increase in the price of the product. 

We shall leave it to the reader to judge the scientific 
conscientiousness of the Critic who turned Marx's remark 
about one of the possible cases into a recognition of this 
case by Marx as some sort of general "law". 

And the following is the conclusion at which Mr. Bul- 
gakov arrives concerning the passage he has discovered: 

"This passage, of course, is vague...." Of course! By sub- 
stituting one word for another, Mr. Bulgakov has rendered 
it utterly meaningless! "... but it cannot be understood 
otherwise than as an indirect or even direct recognition 
[listen well!] of the law of diminishing returns. I am un- 
aware that Marx has expressed himself openly on the latter 
in any other place" (I, 14). As an ex-Marxist, Mr. Bulgakov 
is "unaware" that Marx openly declared the assumptions 
of West, Malthus, and Ricardo — that differential rent 
presupposes a transition to worse land or diminishing 
returns — to be utterly false.* He is "unaware" that in the 
course of his voluminous analysis of rent Marx points 
out scores of times that he regards diminishing and increas- 
ing productivity of additional investments of capital as 
equally possible cases! 



Mr. Bulgakov has completely failed to understand Marx's 
theory of rent. He is convinced that he has shattered this 
theory by the two following arguments: (1) According to 
Marx, agricultural capital enters into the equalisation of 

* This false assumption of classical political economy, refuted 
by Marx, was adopted by the "Critic" Mr. Bulgakov, following on the 
heels of his teacher, Brentano, uncritically, of course. "The condi- 
tion for the appearance of rent," Mr. Bulgakov writes, "is the law 
of diminishing returns" (I, 90). "... English rent ... as a matter of fact 
distinguishes successive investments of capital of varying and, as 
a rule, diminishing productivity" (I, 130). 



the rate of profit, so that rent is created by a surplus profit 
that exceeds the average rate of profit. Mr. Bulgakov con- 
siders this to be false because the monopoly of land owner- 
ship eliminates free competition, which is necessary for the 
process of equalising the rate of profit. Agricultural capital 
does not enter into the process of equalising the rate of 
profit. (2) Absolute rent is merely a special case of differen- 
tial rent, and it is erroneous to distinguish the one from the 
other. The distinction is based upon a completely arbi- 
trary twofold interpretation of one and the same fact, 
namely, the monopoly ownership of one of the factors of pro- 
duction. Mr. Bulgakov is so convinced of the crushing 
effect of his arguments that he cannot refrain from pouring 
forth a stream of vehement words against Marx, such as 
petitio principii,* non-Marxism, logical fetishism, Marx's 
loss of capacity for mental flights, and so forth. And yet 
both those arguments are based on a rather crude error. 
The same one-sided vulgarisation of the subject which in- 
duced Mr. Bulgakov to raise one of the possible cases (di- 
minishing productivity of additional investments of capi- 
tal) to the level of the universal law of diminishing returns 
brings him in the present instance to employ the concept 
"monopoly" uncritically and to convert it into something 
universal. In doing so, he confuses the results which accrue 
under the capitalist organisation of agriculture from the 
limitedness of land, on the one hand, and from private 
property in land, on the other. These are two different things, 
as we shall explain. 

"The condition, although not the source, of the appear- 
ance of ground-rent," writes Mr. Bulgakov, "is the same 
as that which gave rise to the possibility of the monopoli- 
sation of land — the fact that the productivity of the land 
is limited, while man's growing need for it is limitless" 
(I, 90). Instead of "the productivity of the land is limited", 
he should have said, "land is limited''. (As we have shown, 
limitedness of the productivity of the land implies "limit- 
edness" of the given technical level, the given state of the 
productive forces.) Under the capitalist system of society, 

* An argument based on the conclusion from a proposition that 
has still to be proved. — Ed. 



the limitedness of land does indeed presuppose monopoli- 
sation of land, but of land as an object of economy and not 
as an object of property rights. The assumption of the capi- 
talist organisation of agriculture necessarily includes the 
assumption that all the land is occupied by separate pri- 
vate enterprises; but it in no way includes the assumption 
that the whole of the land is the private property of those 
farmers, or of other persons, or that it is, in general, pri- 
vate property. The monopoly of landownership based on 
property rights and the monopoly of the land economy are 
two entirely different things, not only logically, but histor- 
ically. Logically, we can quite easily imagine a purely 
capitalist organisation of agriculture in which private 
property in land is entirely absent, in which the land is the 
property of the state, or of a village commune, etc. In ac- 
tual practice we see that in all developed capitalist coun- 
tries the whole of the land is occupied by separate, private 
enterprises; but these enterprises exploit not only their 
own lands, but also those rented from other landowners, 
from the state, or from village communes (e.g., in Russia, 
where, as is well known, the private enterprises established 
on peasant communal lands are principally capitalist peas- 
ant enterprises). Not without reason did Marx, at the very 
beginning of his analysis of rent, observe that the capitalist 
mode of production meets in its first stages (and subordi- 
nates to itself) the most varied forms of landed property: 
from clan property 65 and feudal landed property down to 
the property of the peasant commune. 

Thus, the limitedness of land necessarily presupposes 
only the monopolisation of the economy of the land (under 
the domination of capitalism). The question arises: what 
are the necessary consequences of this monopolisation in 
relation to the problem of rent? The limitedness of land re- 
sults in the price of grain being determined by the condi- 
tions of production, not on the average land, but on the 
worst land under cultivation. This price of grain enables 
the farmer ( = the capitalist entrepreneur in agriculture) 
to cover his cost of production and gives him the average 
rate of profit on his capital. The farmer on the better land 
obtains an additional profit, which forms differential rent. 
The question as to whether private property in land exists 



has nothing whatever to do with the question of the forma- 
tion of differential rent, which is inevitable in capitalist 
agriculture even on communal, state, or non-private 
lands. The only consequence of the limitedness of land un- 
der capitalism is the formation of differential rent arising 
out of the difference in the productivity of various invest- 
ments of capital. Mr. Bulgakov sees a second consequence in 
the elimination of free competition in agriculture when 
he says that the absence of this free competition prevents 
agricultural capital from participating in the formation 
of average profit. Obviously, he confuses the question of 
land cultivation with the right of property in land. The 
only thing that logically follows from the limitedness of 
land (irrespective of private property in land) is that the 
land will be entirely occupied by capitalist farmers; but it 
by no means follows that free competition among those farm- 
ers will necessarily be restricted in any way. Limitedness 
of land is a general phenomenon which inevitably leaves 
its impress upon the whole of capitalist agriculture. The 
logical unsoundness of confusing these different things 
is clearly confirmed by history. We shall not speak of Eng- 
land, where the separation of landownership from land 
cultivation is obvious, where free competition among farm- 
ers is almost limitless, where capital obtained from com- 
merce and industry was and is invested in agriculture on 
the widest scale. But in all other capitalist countries (not- 
withstanding the opinion of Mr. Bulgakov, who, following 
Mr. Struve, vainly strives to place "English" rent in a spe- 
cial category) the same process of the separation of landown- 
ership from land cultivation is actual, although in ex- 
tremely varied forms (leases, mortgages). In failing to see 
this process (strongly emphasised by Marx), Mr. Bulgakov 
has failed to see the main thing. In all European countries, 
after the fall of serfdom, we see the decay of landownership 
based on social-estates, the mobilisation of landed property, 
the investment of merchant and industrial capital in agri- 
culture, an increase in tenant farming and an increase in 
the mortgaging of land. In Russia also, despite the most 
pronounced survivals of serfdom, we see after the Reform* 

The Reform of 1861 which abolished serfdom in Russia. — TV. 


increased purchasing of land by peasants, commoners, 
and merchants, and increased leasing of privately-owned, 
state, and village communal lands, etc., etc. What do all 
these phenomena prove? They prove that free competition 
has entered agriculture — despite the monopoly of landed 
property and regardless of the infinite variety of its 
forms. In all capitalist countries at the present time, every 
owner of capital can invest his money in agriculture (by 
purchasing or leasing land) as easily, or almost as easily, 
as he can invest in any branch of commerce or in- 

In arguing against Marx's theory of differential rent, 
Mr. Bulgakov says that "all these differences [differences 
in the conditions of the production of agricultural products] 
are contradictory and may [our italics] mutually eliminate 
one another; as Rodbertus pointed out, distance may be 
counteracted by fertility, different degrees of fertility may 
be equalised by more intensive cultivation of the more 
fertile plots" (I, 81). A pity, indeed, that our strict scientist 
should have forgotten that Marx noted this fact and was 
able to appraise it not so one-sidedly. Marx wrote: "... It 
is evident that these two different causes of differential rent — 
fertility and location [of plots of land] — may work in op- 
posite directions. A certain plot of land may be very fa- 
vourably located and yet be very poor in fertility, and vice 
versa. This circumstance is important, for it explains how 
it is possible that bringing into cultivation the land of a 
certain country may equally well proceed from the better 
to the worse land as vice versa. Finally, it is clear that the 
progress of social production in general has, on the one 
hand, the effect of evening out differences arising from 
location [of plots of land] as a cause of ground-rent, by creat- 
ing local markets and improving locations by establishing 
communication and transportation facilities; on the other 
hand, it increases the differences in individual locations 
of plots of land by separating agriculture from manufactur- 
ing and forming large centres of production, on the one 
hand, while relatively isolating agricultural districts [re- 
lative Vereinsamung des Landes] on the other" (Das Kapital, 
III, 2, S. 190). 66 Thus, while Mr. Bulgakov triumphantly 
repeats the long known references to the possibility of the 



mutual elimination of the differences, Marx presents the 
further problem of the transformation of this possibility 
into reality and shows that, simultaneously with equalising 
influences, there are to be observed differentiating influ- 
ences. The final result of these mutually contradictory influ- 
ences is, as everyone knows, that in all countries plots of 
land differ considerably both in fertility and in location. 
Mr. Bulgakov's objection merely reveals that he has not 
given any thought whatsoever to his observations. 

Continuing his argument, Mr. Bulgakov says that the con- 
ception of the last and least productive investment of labour 
and capital is "employed uncritically by both Ricardo and 
Marx. It is not difficult to see what an arbitrary element 
is introduced by this conception: let the amount of capital 
invested in land be equal to 10a, and let each successive a 
represent a diminishing productivity; the total product of 
the soil will be A. Obviously, the average productivity of 
each a will be equal to A/10; and if the total capital is re- 
garded as a single whole, then the price will be determined 
precisely by this average productivity" (I, 82). Obviously, 
we say in reply to this, behind his florid phrases about the 
"limited productivity of the land" Mr. Bulgakov failed to 
see a trifle: the limitedness of land. This limitedness, ir- 
respective of the form of property in land, creates a certain 
kind of monopoly, i.e., since all the land is occupied by 
farmers, and since there is a demand for the whole of the 
grain produced on the whole of the land, including the 
worst land and the remotest from the market, it is clear 
that the price of grain is determined by the price of produc- 
tion on the worst land (or the price of production connect- 
ed with the last and least productive investment of capital). 
Mr. Bulgakov's "average productivity" is a futile exercise 
in arithmetic, for the limitedness of land prevents the actual 
formation of this average. For this "average productivity" 
to form and to determine the prices, every capitalist must, 
in general, not only be able to invest capital in agriculture 
(to the extent that free competition, as we have said, exists 
in agriculture), but he must be able at all times to establish 
new agricultural enterprises in addition to those already 
existing. If this were possible, there would be no difference 
whatever between agriculture and industry, and rent could 


not come into existence. But precisely because of the limit- 
edness of land, this is not the case. 

To proceed. Until now we have pursued our argument 
without taking into account the question of property in 
land; we have seen that this method was necessary for log- 
ical considerations, as well as for the reason that historical 
data show that capitalist agriculture emerged and developed 
under various forms of landownership. Let us now introduce 
this new condition. Let us assume that all land is privately 
owned. How will this affect rent? Differential rent will be 
collected by the landowner from the farmer on the basis 
of his right of ownership. Since differential rent is the sur- 
plus profit over and above the normal, average profit on 
capital, and since free competition in the sense of the free 
investment of capital in agriculture exists (is being created 
by capitalist development), the landowner will always find 
a farmer who will be satisfied with the average profit and 
who will give him the surplus profit. Private property in 
land does not create differential rent; it merely transfers 
it from the hands of the farmer to the hands of the landown- 
er. Is the influence of private landownership restricted 
to that? Can we assume that the landowner will permit 
the farmer to exploit gratis the worst and most inconvenient- 
ly located land, which only produces the average profit 
on capital? Naturally, not. Landownership is a monopoly, 
and on the basis of this monopoly the landowner demands 
payment from the farmer for this land also. That payment 
will be absolute rent, which has no connection whatever 
with the difference in productivity of various investments 
of capital, and which has its genesis in the private owner- 
ship of land. In accusing Marx of making an arbitrary, two- 
fold interpretation of the same monopoly, Mr. Bulgakov did 
not take the trouble to consider that we are actually dealing 
with a twofold monopoly. In the first place, we have the 
monopoly (capitalist) of land economy. This monopoly 
originates in the limitedness of land, and is therefore inev- 
itable in any capitalist society. This monopoly leads to 
the determination of the price of grain by the conditions of 
production on the worst land; the surplus profit obtained 
by the investment of capital on better land, or by a more 
productive investment of capital, forms differential rent. 



This rent comes into being quite independently of private 
property in land, which simply enables the landowner to 
take it from the farmer. In the second place, we have the 
monopoly of private property in land. Neither logically nor 
historically is this monopoly inseverably linked with the 
previous monopoly.* There is nothing in this monopoly 
that is essential to capitalist society and to the capitalist 
organisation of agriculture. On the one hand, we can quite 
easily conceive of capitalist agriculture without private 
property in land; indeed, many consistent bourgeois econo- 
mists have demanded the nationalisation of land. On the 
other hand, even in practice we meet with the capitalist 
organisation of agriculture without private ownership of 
land, e.g., on state and village-commune lands. Conse- 
quently, it is necessary to distinguish between these two 
kinds of monopolies, as well as to recognise that absolute 
rent, which is engendered by private property in land, exists 
side by side with differential rent.** 

* It is hardly necessary to remind the reader that we 
are dealing here with the general theory of rent and the capital- 
ist organisation of agriculture; we do not, therefore, concern our- 
selves with facts like the antiquity and widespread character of pri- 
vate property in land, or the undermining of the last-mentioned form 
of monopoly, and partly of both its forms, by overseas competition, 
and so forth. 

**In the second part of Volume II of Theories of Surplus-Value 
(Theorien iiber den Mehrwert, II. Band, II. Theil), published in 1905, 
Marx gives an explanation of absolute rent which confirms the correct- 
ness of my interpretation (particularly in regard to the two forms of 
monopoly). The following passages from Marx pertain to this inter- 
pretation: "If land were an unlimited element, not only in relation 
to capital and to population, but in actual fact, i.e., if it were as 
'unlimited' as 'air and water', if it 'existed in unlimited quantities' 
[quotations from Ricardo], then the appropriation of land by one per- 
son could not in practice in any way exclude the appropriation of 
land by another person. In that case, private (as also 'public' and state) 
property in land could not exist. If, in addition, the land every- 
where were of the same quality, no rent could be obtained for it.... 
The crux of the matter is — if land in relation to capital existed as a 
natural element, then capital in the sphere of agriculture would ope- 
rate in the same way as it does in every other sphere of industry. 
There would then be no property in land and no rent.... On the other 
hand, if land is: (1) limited; and (2) appropriated — if property in land 
is a condition for the emergence of capital — and that is precisely the 
case in countries where capitalist production is developing; and in 
countries where this condition did not formerly exist (as in old Eu- 


Marx explains the possibility of the formation of absolute 
rent from the surplus-value of agricultural capital by the 
fact that in agriculture the share of variable capital in the 
total composition of capital is above the average (a quite 
natural assumption in view of the undoubted backwardness 
of agricultural as compared with industrial technique). 
This being the case, it follows that the value of agricultural 
products, generally speaking, is higher than the cost of 
their production, and that surplus-value is higher than 
profit. The monopoly of private property in land, however, 
prevents this surplus from passing wholly into the process 
of equalising profits, and absolute rent is taken from this 

Mr. Bulgakov is greatly dissatisfied with this explanation 
and he exclaims: "What kind of thing is this surplus-value, 
which, like cloth or cotton, or some other commodity, can 
suffice or not suffice to cover a possible demand? In the first 
place, it is not a material thing, it is a concept, which 
serves to express a definite social relationship of production" 

rope), capitalist production itself creates it, as in the United States — 
then land does not represent a field of activity accessible to capital 
in an elementary way. That is why absolute rent exists, apart from 
differential rent" (pp. 80-81). 67 Marx definitely draws a distinction 
here between the limitedness of land and the fact that land is private 
property. (Author's note to the 1908 edition. — Ed.) 

* We desire to say in passing that we have considered it necessa- 
ry to deal in particular detail with Marx's theory of rent because 
we find that the interpretation Mr. P. Maslov gives of it is also incor- 
rect ("The Agrarian Question", in Zhizn, Nos. 3 and 4, 1901). In that 
article, he regards the diminishing productivity of successive invest- 
ments of capital, if not as a law, then at all events as the "usual" and 
as it were normal phenomenon, which he links with differential rent, 
and he rejects the theory of absolute rent. Mr. P. Maslov's interest- 
ing article contains many true remarks concerning the Critics, but 
it suffers greatly from the author's erroneous theory just referred to 
(while defending Marxism, he has not taken the trouble to define 
clearly the difference between "his own" theory and that of Marx), 
as well as from a number of careless and utterly unjust assertions, 
as for example, that Mr. Berdyaev "is completely liberating him- 
self from the influence of bourgeois authors" and is distinguished 
for his "consistent class point of view, maintained without sacrific- 
ing objectivity"; that "in many respects Kautsky's analysis is in 
places ... tendentious"; that Kautsky "has completely failed to indi- 
cate in what direction the development of the productive forces in 
agriculture is proceeding"; and so forth. 



(I, 105). This contrasting of a "material thing" to a "con- 
cept" is a striking example of the scholasticism which is 
now so freely offered in the guise of "criticism". What would 
be the use of a "concept" of the share of the social product 
if there were not definite "material things" corresponding 
to that concept? Surplus-value is the money equivalent 
of the surplus product, which consists of a definite share of 
cloth, cotton, grain, and of all other commodities (the 
word "definite" must not, of course, be understood in the 
sense that science can concretely define that share, but in 
the sense that the conditions which, in general outline, 
define the dimensions of this share are known). In agri- 
culture, the surplus product is larger (in proportion to the 
capital) than in other branches of industry, and this surplus 
(which does not enter into the equalisation of profit owing 
to the monopoly of private property in land) may, naturally, 
"suffice or not suffice to cover the demand" of the monopo- 
list landowner. 

We shall not burden the reader with a detailed exposition 
of the theory of rent which Mr. Bulgakov has created, as 
he modestly remarks, "by his own efforts", "pursuing his 
own path" (I, 111). A few remarks will suffice to character- 
ise this product of the "last and least productive investment" 
of professorial "effort". The "new" theory of rent is brewed 
according to the ancient recipe: "What is worth doing at 
all is worth doing thoroughly". Since free competition exists, 
then without any restrictions (although absolutely free com- 
petition has nowhere and at no time existed). Since monop- 
oly exists, there is nothing more to be said. Consequently, 
rent is not taken from surplus-value, and not even from the 
agricultural product; it is taken from the product of non- 
agricultural labour; it is simply a tribute, a tax, a deduc- 
tion from the total social product, a promissory note in 
favour of the landlord. "Agricultural capital, with its profit, 
and agricultural labour, agriculture in general as a sphere 
of investment for capital and labour, are therefore a status 
in statu* in the kingdom of capitalism.... All [sic\] defini- 
tions of capital, surplus-value, wages, and value generally 
are imaginary quantities when applied to agriculture" (I, 99). 

A state within a state. — Ed. 


So, now everything is clear: both capitalists and wage- 
workers in agriculture are imaginary quantities. But if Mr. 
Bulgakov at times wanders into the clouds, he, at others, 
argues not altogether irrationally. Fourteen pages farther 
on we read: "The production of agricultural products costs 
society a certain quantity of labour; that is the value of 
these products." Excellent. Consequently, at least the 
"definition" of value is not altogether an imaginary quan- 
tity. Farther we read: "Since production is organised on a 
capitalist basis, and since capital stands at the head of 
production, the price of grain will be determined by the 
price of production, that is, the productivity of the given 
labour and capital invested will be calculated according to 
average social productivity." Fine! Consequently, the 
"definitions" of capital, surplus-value, and wages are not 
altogether imaginary quantities. Consequently, free compe- 
tition (although not absolutely free) exists; for unless cap- 
ital could flow from agriculture into industry and vice 
versa, "the calculation of productivity according to average 
social productivity" would be impossible. Again: "The 
monopoly in land causes price to rise above value to the 
limits permitted by market conditions." Excellent! But 
where has Mr. Bulgakov seen that tribute, taxes, promis- 
sory notes, etc., are dependent upon market conditions? 
If the monopoly causes price to rise to the limits permitted 
by market conditions, then the only difference between the 
"new" theory of rent and the "old" is this: the author, pur- 
suing "his own path", failed to understand the difference 
between the influence of the limitedness of land and the 
influence of private property in land, on the one hand, and 
the connection between the concept "monopoly" and the 
concept "the last and least productive investment of la- 
bour and capital", on the other. Is it surprising, therefore, 
that seven pages farther on (I, 120) Mr. Bulgakov should 
completely lose sight of "his own" theory and argue about 
the "method of distributing this [agricultural] product 
among the landowner, the capitalist farmer, and the agri- 
cultural labourers"? A brilliant finale to a brilliant criti- 
cism! A remarkable outcome of the new Bulgakov theory 
of rent, which, henceforth, will enrich the science of polit- 
ical economy! 





Let us now pass to what Mr. Bulgakov regards as the 
"remarkable" work of Hertz (Die agrarischen Fragen im 
Verhdltniss zum Sozialismus , Wien, 1899.* Russian transla- 
tion by A. Ilyinsky, St. Petersburg, 1900). We shall need, 
however, to spend a little time in simultaneously examining 
similar arguments by both authors. 

The question of machinery in agriculture and the closely 
connected question of large- and small-scale production 
in agriculture most frequently provide the "Critics" with 
the occasion to "refute" Marxism. We shall later analyse 
some of the detailed data they present; for the present let us 
examine their general arguments. The Critics devote entire 
pages to arguing in detail that the use of machinery encoun- 
ters greater difficulties in agriculture than in industry and 
for that reason machines are used to a smaller extent and 
have less significance. This is indisputable, and it was def- 
initely shown, for example, by the same Kautsky whose name 
is enough to arouse Messrs. Bulgakov, Hertz, and Chernov to 
a state bordering on frenzy. But this indisputable fact does 
not in the least controvert the other fact that the use of ma- 
chinery is developing rapidly in agriculture also, and that 
it has a powerful transforming effect upon it. All that the 
Critics can do is to "evade" this inevitable conclusion by such 
profound arguments as, "Agriculture is characterised by the 
domination of Nature in the process of production and by 
the lack of human free will" (Bulgakov, I, 43). "...instead 
of the uncertain and imprecise work of man, it [machinery 
in industry] performs micrometric as well as colossal work 
with mathematical precision. The machine cannot do the 
like [?] in the production of agricultural products because, 
to this day, this working instrument is not in the hands of 
man, but in the hands of Mother Nature. This is no meta- 
phor" (ibid.). Indeed it is no metaphor; it is merely an empty 
phrase; for everyone knows that the steam plough, the seed- 
drill, the threshing-machine, etc., make work more "certain 

* Friedrich Otto Hertz, The Agrarian Question in Relation to 
Socialism, Vienna, 1899. — Ed. 


and precise"; consequently, to say, "cannot do the like", is 
simply to talk nonsense! Similarly, how can it be said that 
machinery in agriculture "cannot to any extent [sicl] revo- 
lutionise production'' (Bulgakov, I, 43-44, where he quotes 
the opinion of agricultural machinery experts, who, however, 
merely refer to the relative difference between agricultural 
and industrial machinery), or that "not only cannot machin- 
ery convert the worker into its adjunct [?], but that the 
worker still retains his previous control of the process" 
(44) — as feeder of the threshing-machine, perhaps? 

Mr. Bulgakov tries to belittle the superiority of the steam 
plough by references to Stumpfe and Kutzleb (who wrote 
of the ability of small-scale farming to compete with large- 
scale farming), as against the opinions of experts in agri- 
cultural machinery and agricultural economics (Fiihling, 
Perels). He advances arguments to the effect that steam 
ploughing requires a special soil* and "extremely exten- 
sive estates" (in Mr. Bulgakov's opinion this is not an argu- 
ment against small-scale farming, but against the steam 
plough!), and that with 12-inch furrows the work of animals 
is cheaper than steam power, and so forth. One could fill 
tomes with such arguments, without, however, in the least 
refuting the fact that the steam plough has made extremely 
deep ploughing possible (furrows deeper than 12 inches), or 
the fact that its use has rapidly developed: in England, in 
1867, only 135 estates were using steam ploughs, whereas 
in 1871 over 2,000 steam ploughs had come in to use (Kauts- 
ky); in Germany the number of farms using steam ploughs 
increased from 836 in 1882 to 1,696 in 1895. 

On the question of agricultural machinery Mr. Bulgakov 
frequently cites Franz Bensing, whom he recommends as 
"the author of a special monograph on agricultural machin- 
ery" (I, 44). It would be most unfair if we did not in the 
present case show how Mr. Bulgakov quotes his authors, and 
how the very witnesses he calls testify against him. 

* Hertz, with a particularly "triumphant" air, insists upon this, 
contending that the "absolute" judgement (S. 65, Russian transla- 
tion, p. 156) that the steam plough is superior to the horse plough 
"under all circumstances" is false. This is precisely what is called forc- 
ing an open door! 



In arguing that Marx's "construction" on the more rapid 
growth of constant capital as compared with variable capi- 
tal is inapplicable to agriculture, Mr. Bulgakov points to 
the need of a larger expenditure of labour-power in propor- 
tion to the increase in the productivity of agriculture, and, 
among others, quotes the calculations made by Bensing: 
"The general amount of human labour required by the var- 
ious systems of economy is expressed as follows: the three- 
field system — 712 man-days; the Norfolk crop rotation sys- 
tem — 1,615 man-days; crop rotation with a considerable 
production of sugar-beet — 3,179 man-days per 60 hectares" 
(Franz Bensing, Der Einfluss der landwirtschaftlichen Ma- 
schinen auf Volks- und Privatwirtschaft ,* Breslau, 1897, S. 
42. Quoted by Bulgakov, I, 32). The unfortunate thing, how- 
ever, is that by this calculation Bensing desired to prove 
that the role of machinery is growing. Applying these figures 
to German agriculture as a whole, Bensing calculates that 
the available agricultural workers would be sufficient to cul- 
tivate the land only on the three-field system, and that, con- 
sequently, the introduction of a crop rotation system would 
have been altogether impossible without machines. It is well 
known that when the old three-field system prevailed machin- 
ery was hardly utilised at all; consequently, Bensing's 
calculation proves the opposite of what Mr. Bulgakov tries 
to prove; this calculation shows that the growth of productiv- 
ity of agriculture was necessarily accompanied by a more 
rapid growth of constant capital as compared with variable 

Elsewhere Mr. Bulgakov, after asserting that "a radical 
[sic\] difference exists between the role of machinery in the 
manufacturing industry and in agriculture", quotes the words 
of Bensing: "Agricultural machinery cannot effect an un- 
limited increase in production in the way machines in indus- 
try do..." (I, 44). Mr. Bulgakov is unlucky again. Bensing 
points to this by no means "radical" difference between agri- 
cultural and industrial machinery in the beginning of Chap- 
ter VI of his book, which is entitled: "The Influence of Agri- 
cultural Machinery on Gross Income". After making a de- 

* The Influence of Agricultural Machinery on National and Pri- 
vate Economy. — Ed. 


tailed analysis of the data relating to each special type of ma- 
chine as published in agricultural literature and of his own 
findings obtained in a special inquiry, Bensing arrives at 
the following general conclusion: the increase in gross income 
obtained by the use of a steam plough is ten per cent, of a 
seed-drill ten per cent, and of a threshing-machine fifteen 
per cent; moreover, the seed-drill causes a saving of twenty 
per cent in seed; only the use of potato-digging machines 
shows a decline of five per cent in gross income. Mr. Bul- 
gakov's assertion that "at all events, the steam plough is 
the only agricultural machine about which anything favour- 
able can be said from the technical point of view" (I, 47-48) 
is at all events refuted by the very Bensing to whom incautious 
Mr. Bulgakov here refers. 

In order to present the significance of machinery in agri- 
culture as precisely and completely as possible, Bensing makes 
a number of detailed calculations of the results of farming 
carried on without machinery, with one machine, with two 
machines, and so forth, and, finally, with the use of all the 
important machines, including the steam plough and light 
railways (Feldbahnen). He found that in farming without 
the aid of machinery gross income amounted to 69,040 
marks — expenditure, 68,615 marks, net income, 425 marks, 
or 1.37 marks per hectare. In farming that made use of all 
the important machines gross income amounted to 81,078 
marks — expenditure, 62,551.5 marks, net income, 18,526.5 
marks, or 59.76 marks per hectare, i.e., more than forty 
times as much as in the first case. That is the effect of machin- 
ery alone, for the system of cultivation is assumed to have 
remained unchanged. It goes without saying that the use of 
machinery is accompanied, as Bensing's calculations show, by 
an enormous increase in constant capital and a diminution 
in variable capital (i.e., in the capital expended on labour- 
power and in the number of workers employed). In short, 
Bensing's work entirely refutes Mr. Bulgakov and proves 
the superiority of large-scale production in agriculture, as 
well as the fact that the law of the growth of constant capi- 
tal at the expense of variable capital is applicable to agri- 

Only one thing makes Mr. Bulgakov akin to Bensing, and 
that is that the latter adopts the purely bourgeois point of 



view, completely fails to understand the contradictions in- 
herent in capitalism, and smugly pretends not to see that ma- 
chines oust the worker, etc. This moderate and methodical 
pupil of the German professors speaks of Marx with a hatred 
to match Mr. Bulgakov's, except that Bensing is more con- 
sistent — he calls Marx "an opponent of machinery" in gen- 
eral, in both agriculture and industry, because, says he, 
Marx "distorts the facts" when he talks of the harmful effect 
machines have on the workers and attributes all sorts of mis- 
fortunes to machines (Bensing, loc. cit., S. 4, 5, and 11). Mr. 
Bulgakov's attitude toward Bensing reveals to us again and 
again what the "Critics" take from the bourgeois scientists 
and what they pretend not to see. 

The nature of Hertz' "criticism" is sufficiently revealed 
by the following example. On page 149 of his book (Russian 
translation) he charges Kautsky with employing "feuilleton 
methods", and on page 150 he "refutes" the assertion that 
large-scale production is superior to small-scale produc- 
tion in regard to the use of machinery, by the following argu- 
ments: (1) Machinery is accessible also to small farmers 
through the medium of co-operative societies. That, if you 
please, is supposed to refute the fact that machinery is used 
on a larger scale on big farms! On the question as to who has 
greater access to the benefits of co-operative organisation, 
we shall have a separate talk with Hertz in our second essay. 
(2) David has shown in Sozialistische Monatshefte 68 (Vol. V, 
No. 2) that the use of machinery on small farms "is extensive 
and is rapidly increasing ... that seed-drills are frequently 
[sic\] to be found even on very small farms. The same applies 
to mowers and other machines" (S. 63, Russian translation, 
p. 151). But if the reader turns to David's article,* he will 
see that the author takes the absolute figures of the number of 
farms using machinery, and not the percentage of those farms 
in relation to the total number of farms in the given cate- 
gory (as Kautsky does, of course). 

Let us compare those figures, which are for the whole of 
Germany for 1895: ** 

* This faulty method is repeated in David's work Socialism and 
Agriculture, St. Petersburg, 1906, p. 179. (Author's note to the 1908 
edition. — Ed.) 

** Statistik des deutschen Reichs, 112. Bd., S. 36*. 



Farms using 


of farms 


•3 co 

a B 


O q_ 
H o 


co S 



i — i 




cc m 
Sh ^ 

O 2 TO 
TO h 




Under 2 hectares 

2 to 5 

5 to 20 
20 to 100 
100 and over " 
















Confirmation indeed of the statement of David and Hertz 
that seeding-machines and mowers are "frequently" found 
"even on very small farms"! And if Hertz draws the "conclu- 
sion" that, "judged by statistics, Kautsky's assertion will 
not stand criticism", who is it that really employs feuil- 
leton methods? 

It should be pointed out as a curiosity that whereas the 
"Critics" deny the superiority of large-scale farming in regard 
to the use of machinery and deny the overwork and under- 
consumption caused by this fact in small farming, they out- 
rageously contradict themselves when compelled to deal 
with the actual facts of the situation (and when they forget 
their "principal task" — to refute "orthodox" Marxism). 
Thus, in Volume II of his book (p. 115) Mr. Bulgakov says: 
"Large-scale farming always works with greater capital in- 
tensity than small-scale farming, and therefore, naturally, 
gives preference to the mechanical factors of production 
over live labour-power." That Mr. Bulgakov as a "Critic" 
should follow Messrs. Struve and Tugan-Baranovsky in their 
inclination towards vulgar political economy by contrasting 
mechanical "factors of production" to live factors is indeed 
quite "natural". But is it natural that he should so incau- 
tiously deny the superiority of large-scale farming? 

On concentration in agricultural production Mr. Bulga- 
kov can find no other words with which to express himself 
than "the mystical law of concentration", and so forth. But 
he comes up against the figures for England, and they 
show that a tendency towards the concentration of farms was 



observed from the fifties to the end of the seventies. "Small 
subsistence farms combined into larger farms," writes Mr. 
Bulgakov. "This consolidation of land was by no means the 
result of the conflict between large-scale and small-scale 
production [?] but of a conscious [?!] striving on the part 
of the landlords to increase their rents by combining sev- 
eral small farms which provided them with very low rents 
into large farms capable of paying them larger rents" (I, 239). 
We are to understand from this: Not conflict between large- 
scale and small-scale farming, but the elimination of the 
latter, because it is less remunerative. "Since farming is estab- 
lished on a capitalist basis, it is indisputable that within 
certain limits large-scale capitalist farming possesses un- 
doubted advantages over small-scale capitalist farming" (I, 
239-40). If this is indisputable, why the clamour? Why did 
Mr. Bulgakov cry murder (in Nachalo) against Kautsky, who 
begins his chapter on large-scale and small-scale production 
(in his Agrarian Question) with the statement: "The more 
capitalistic agriculture becomes, the more qualitative be- 
comes the difference in technique between large-scale and 
small-scale production"? 

But not only the period of prosperity of English agricul- 
ture — also the period of crisis leads to conclusions un- 
favourable to small-scale farming. The reports of commis- 
sions published during recent years "with astonishing per- 
sistence assert that the crisis has most severely affected 
the small farmers" (I, 311). One report dealing with small 
owners says: "Their homes are worse than the average la- 
bourers' cottages.... All of them work astonishingly hard 
and for many more hours than the labourers, and many of 
them say that their material conditions are not so good as 
those of the latter, that they do not live as well and rarely 
eat fresh meat.... The yeomen, burdened with mortgages, were 
the first to go under..." (I, 316). "They stint themselves in 
all things as only few labourers do.... The small farmers keep 
going as long as they are able to avail themselves of the 
unpaid labour of the members of their families.... It is hardly 
necessary to add that the living conditions of the small farm- 
ers are far worse than those of the labourers" (I, 320-21). 
We have quoted these passages so that the reader may judge 
the correctness of the following conclusion drawn by Mr. 


Bulgakov: "The severe ruination of the farms which had sur- 
vived until the epoch of the agrarian crisis indicates merely 
[!!] that in such circumstances small producers succumb more 
quickly than large producers — and nothing more [sic!!]. 
It is utterly impossible to draw from this any general con- 
clusion concerning the economic viability of small farms, for 
in that epoch the whole of English agriculture was insolvent" 
(I, 333). Isn't this priceless? And in the chapter dealing 
with the general conditions of development of peasant farm- 
ing, Mr. Bulgakov even generalises this remarkable method 
of reasoning in the following manner: "A sudden drop in prices 
has a serious effect on all forms of production; but peasant 
production, having least capital at its disposal, is natur- 
ally less stable than large-scale production (which does not 
in the slightest affect the question of its general viability)" 
(II, 247). Thus, in capitalist society, enterprises having less 
capital at their disposal are less stable; but that does not 
affect their "general" viability! 

Hertz is not more consistent in his reasoning. He "refutes" 
Kautsky (in the manner described above); but in discussing 
America he admits the superiority of large-scale farming in 
that country, which permits "the employment of machinery 
on a far larger scale than our parcellised farming permits" 
(S. 36, Russian translation, p. 93). He admits that "the Euro- 
pean peasant, employing antiquated, routine methods of 
production, frequently toils [robotend] for a crust of bread like 
a labourer, without striving for anything better" (ibid.). 
Hertz admits generally that "small-scale production employs 
a relatively larger amount of labour than large-scale pro- 
duction" (S. 74, Russian translation, p. 177); he could well 
communicate to Mr. Bulgakov the data on the increase in 
yield resulting from the introduction of the steam plough 
(S. 67-68, Russian translation, pp. 162-63), etc. 

The natural concomitant of our Critics' faulty theoretical 
reasoning on the significance of agricultural machinery is 
their helpless repetition of the views of downright reaction- 
ary agrarians who are opposed to machinery. Hertz, it is 
true, still hesitates on this delicate point; in speaking of 
the "difficulties" in the way of introducing machinery in 
agriculture, he observes: "The opinion is expressed that so 
much free time is left in the winter that hand threshing is 



more profitable" (S. 65, Russian translation, pp. 156-57). 
Apparently, Hertz, with the logic peculiar to him, is in- 
clined to draw the conclusion that this is an argument, not 
against small production, not against the capitalist ob- 
stacles to the introduction of machinery, but against machin- 
ery! It is not surprising that Mr. Bulgakov chides Hertz 
for being "too closely tied to the opinion of his party" (II, 
287). The Russian professor, of course, is above such degrad- 
ing "ties" and proudly declares: "I am sufficiently free from 
the prejudice so widespread — particularly in Marxist lit- 
erature — according to which every machine must be re- 
garded as progress" (I, 48). Unfortunately, the flight of imagi- 
nation revealed in this magnificent piece of reasoning finds 
no correspondence in concrete conclusions. "The steam thresh- 
ing-machine," writes Mr. Bulgakov, "which deprives very 
many workers of winter occupation, spelt for the labourers 
an undoubtedly serious evil uncompensated by technical 
advantages.* Goltz, incidentally, points this out and even 
gives expression to a Utopian desire" (II, 103), i.e., the de- 
sire to restrict the use of threshing-machines, particularly 
steam threshers, "in order", adds he, "to improve the condi- 
tions of the agricultural labourers, as well as to reduce emi- 
gration and migration" (by migration Goltz, in all probability, 
means movement to the towns). 

We shall remind the reader that this Goltzian idea was also 
noted by Kautsky in his Agrarian Question. It will not be 
without interest, therefore, to compare the attitude of the 
narrow orthodox Marxist, steeped in Marxist prejudices, 
with that of the latter-day Critic who has excellently assim- 
ilated the whole spirit of "criticism" towards a concrete 
question of economics (the significance of machines) and poli- 
tics (not to be restricted?). 

Kautsky says (Agrarfrage, S. 41) that Goltz ascribes a 
particularly "harmful influence" to the threshing-machine: 
it deprives the agricultural labourers of their principal 

* Cf . Vol. 1, p. 51: "...the steam thresher ... performs the bulk 
of the work in winter when there is a scarcity of work as it is (con- 
sequently, the usefulness of the machine for agriculture as a whole 
[sic!!] is more than doubtful; we shall come across this fact again 
later on)." 


winter occupation, drives them into the towns, and inten- 
sifies the depopulation of the countryside. Goltz proposes to 
restrict the use of the threshing-machine, and, Kautsky 
adds, proposes this "ostensibly in the interests of agricul- 
tural labourers, but in fact in the interests of the landlords, 
for whom," as Goltz himself says, "the loss resulting from such 
restriction will be amply compensated — if not immediate- 
ly, then in the future — by the larger number of workers 
they will be able to obtain in the summer-time". "Fortun- 
ately," continues Kautsky, "this conservative friendship for 
the labourers is nothing more nor less than reactionary uto- 
pianism. The threshing-machine is of too great an 'immedi- 
ate' advantage for the landlord to be induced to abandon its 
use for the sake of profits 'in the future'. And so, the thresh- 
er will continue to perform its revolutionary work; it will 
continue to drive the agricultural labourers into the towns, 
and as a result will become a powerful instrument for the rais- 
ing of wages in the rural districts, on the one hand, and for 
the further development of the agricultural machine in- 
dustry, on the other." 

Mr. Bulgakov's attitude towards the problem as presented 
by a Social-Democrat and by an agrarian is very character- 
istic; it is an example in miniature of the position all the 
contemporary "Critics" occupy midway between the party 
of the proletariat and the party of the bourgeoisie. The Crit- 
ic, of course, is not so narrow-minded and not so banal as 
to adopt the point of view of the class struggle and the revo- 
lutionising of all social relationships by capitalism. On the 
other hand, however, although our Critic "has grown wiser", 
the recollection of the time when he was "young and foolish", 
and shared the prejudices of Marxism, prevents him from 
adopting in its entirety the programme of his new com- 
rade, the agrarian, who quite reasonably and consistently 
passes from the conclusion that machinery is harmful "for the 
whole of agriculture" to the desire to prohibit its use. And 
our good Critic finds himself in the position of Buridan's 
ass, between two bundles of hay. On the one hand, he has 
lost all understanding of the class struggle and is now capable 
of saying that machinery is harmful for "the whole of agri- 
culture", forgetting that the whole of modern agriculture is 
conducted mainly by entrepreneurs, who are concerned only 



about their profit; he has so far forgotten "the years of his 
youth", when he was a Marxist, that he now raises the ex- 
tremely absurd question as to whether the technical advan- 
tages of machinery will "compensate" for its harmful effects 
upon the labourers (produced, not by the steam thresher 
alone, but by the steam plough, the mower, seed-sifter, etc.). 
He even fails to see that, in fact, the agrarian wants to en- 
slave the labourer further both in winter and in summer. 
On the other hand, he vaguely recalls the obsolete, "dogmat- 
ic" prejudice that prohibiting machinery is Utopian. Poor 
Mr. Bulgakov! Will he manage to extricate himself from this 
unpleasant situation? 

It is interesting to note that in trying in every way to belit- 
tle the significance of agricultural machinery, and even 
making use of the "law of diminishing returns", our Critics 
have forgotten to mention (or have deliberately refrained 
from mentioning) the new technological revolution which 
electrical engineering is preparing in agriculture. But Kaut- 
sky, who, according to the extremely unfair judgement of 
Mr. P. Maslov, "committed a serious mistake in completely 
failing to indicate the course taken by the development of 
the productive forces in agriculture" (Zhizn, 1901, No. 3, 
p. 171), pointed to the significance of electricity in agri- 
culture as far back as 1899 (in Die Agrarfrage). Today, the 
symptoms of the approaching technological revolution 
are much more distinct. Attempts are being made to elu- 
cidate theoretically the significance of electricity in agricul- 
ture (see Dr. Otto Pringsheim, Landwirtschaftliche Manu- 
faktur und elektrische Landwirtschaft,* Brauns Archiv, 
XV, 1900, S. 406-18; and Kautsky's article in Neue Zeit, 69 
XIX, 1, 1900-01, No. 18, "Die Elektrizitdt in der Landwirt- 
schaft"**). Practical landlord farmers are describing their 
experiments in the application of electricity (Pringsheim 
cites a work by Adolf Seufferheld, who describes the experi- 
ments on his own farm). These landlords see in electricity a 
means of making agriculture once more remunerative. 
They call upon the government and the landlords to estab- 

Agricultural Manufacture and Electrified Agriculture. — Ed. 
"Electricity in Agriculture." — Ed. 



lish central power stations and to organise the mass produc- 
tion of electricity for farmers. (Last year a work was pub- 
lished in Konigsberg, written by P. Mack, an East-Prussian 
landlord, entitled Der Aufschwung unseres Landwirtschafts- 
betriebes durch Verbilligung der Produktionskosten. Eine 
Untersuchung iiber den Dienst, den Maschinentechnik und 
Elektrizitdt der Landwirtschaft bieten.*) 

Pringsheim makes what in our opinion is a very true obser- 
vation: that, in its general technological, and perhaps even 
economic, level, modern agriculture is at a stage of develop- 
ment which more than anything resembles the stage of in- 
dustry Marx described as "manufacture". The predominance 
of hand labour and simple co-operation, the sporadic em- 
ployment of machines, the relatively small extent of produc- 
tion (if we consider, for example, the total annual volume of 
products sold by a single enterprise), the relatively limited 
market for the most part, the connection between large- 
and small-scale production (the latter, like the handicrafts- 
man in his relation to the big master-manufacturer, supplies 
the former with labour-power — or else the former buys up 
the "semi-finished articles" from the latter; thus, the big 
farmer buys beets, cattle, etc., from the small farmers) — 
all these are symptoms of the fact that agriculture has 
not yet reached the stage of real "large-scale machine 
industry" in the Marxian sense. In agriculture there is no 
"system of machines" as yet linked into one productive 

Of course, this comparison must not be carried too far. 
On the one hand, agriculture possesses certain peculiar fea- 
tures that cannot possibly be removed (if we leave aside the 
extremely remote and problematic possibility of producing 
protein and foods in laboratories). Owing to these peculiar- 
ities, large-scale machine production will never manifest 
in agriculture all the features it possesses in industry. On the 
other hand, even in the manufacture stage of development 
large-scale production in industry reached predominance and 
considerable technical superiority over small-scale produc- 

* The Rise in Our Agriculture Through Reduced Cost of Produc- 
tion. An Inquiry into the Services Offered to Agriculture by Mechan- 
ical Engineering and Electricity. — Ed. 



tion. For a long time the small producer tried to counteract 
this superiority by the lengthened working day and curtailed 
consumption which are so characteristic of the handicrafts- 
man and of the modern small peasant. The predominance 
of hand labour in the manufacture stage enabled the small 
producer to hold his own for a time by "heroic" measures such 
as these. But those who were deceived by this and talked 
about the viability of the handicraftsman (even as our con- 
temporary Critics talk of the viability of the peasant) very 
soon found themselves refuted by the "temporary tendency" 
which paralysed the "universal law" of technological stag- 
nation. Let us recall, for instance, the Russian investigators 
into the handicraft weaving industry in Moscow Gubernia 
in the seventies. As far as cotton weaving was concerned, 
they said, the hand weaver was doomed; the machine had 
triumphed. The handicraft silk weaver, however, may still 
hold his own for a time, the machinery being still far from 
perfect. Two decades have passed, and machinery has driven 
the small producer from still another of his last refuges, as if 
telling those who have ears to hear and eyes to see that the 
economist must always look forward, towards technological 
progress, or else be left behind at once; for he who will not 
look ahead turns his back on history; there is not and 
there cannot be any middle path. 

"Writers who, like Hertz, in treating of competition 
between small- and large-scale production in agriculture 
ignored electrical engineering, must start their investigation 
all over again," aptly remarked Pringsheim, which remark 
applies with still greater force to Mr. Bulgakov's two-volume 

Electricity is cheaper than steam power. It is more easily 
divisible into small units, it can be more easily transmitted 
over very long distances; machinery powered by electricity 
runs more smoothly and precisely, and for that reason it is 
more convenient to use it in threshing, ploughing, milking, 
cutting fodder,* etc. Kautsky describes one of the Hungar- 

* This is for the information of our bold Mr. Bulgakov, who 
boldly and groundlessly speaks of "branches of agricultural produc- 
tion in which machinery cannot be used at all, as, for example, live- 
stock farming" (I, 49). 


ian latifundia* in which electricity is transmitted from a 
central station in all directions to the remote parts of the 
estate and is used for running agricultural machinery, for 
chopping mangels, for raising water, for lighting, etc., etc. 
"In order to pump 300 hectolitres a day from a well 29 me- 
tres deep into a reservoir 10 metres high, and in order to pre- 
pare fodder for 240 cows, 200 calves, and 60 oxen and 
horses, i.e., for chopping mangels, etc., two pairs of horses 
were required in the winter and one pair in the summer, at a 
cost of 1,500 gulden. Now, the horses have been replaced by a 
three and a five h.p. motor costing altogether 700 gulden to 
maintain, which represents a saving of 800 gulden" (Kautsky, 
loc. cit.). Mack calculates the cost of a horse-workday at 
3 marks; but if the horse is replaced by electricity the cost is 
40 to 75 pfennigs, i.e., four to seven times cheaper. If in 50 
years or more from now, he says, 1,750,000 of the horses 
used in German agriculture were supplanted by electricity 
(in 1895, 2,600,000 horses, 1,000,000 oxen, and 2,300,000 
cows were used for field work in German agriculture, of which 
1,400,000 horses and 400,000 oxen were used on farms 
exceeding 20 hectares in area), expenses would be reduced 
from 1,003,000,000 marks to 261,000,000 marks, i.e., by 
742,000,000 marks. An enormous area of land now utilised 
for raising cattle feed could then be turned to the produc- 
tion of food — for the improvement of the food of the work- 
ers, whom Mr. Bulgakov tries so much to scare with the 
prospect of the "diminution of the gifts of Nature", "the grain 
problem", and so forth. Mack strongly recommends the unit- 
ing of agriculture with industry for the permanent exploi- 
tation of electricity; he recommends the cutting of a Mazu- 
rian canal to provide power for five power stations which 
would distribute electricity to farmers within a radius of 
20-25 kilometres. He recommends the use of peat for the 
same purpose, and demands the association of farmers: "Only 
in co-operative association with industry and big capital is 
it possible to make our branch of industry profitable once 
again" (Mack, S. 48). Of course, the employment of new meth- 
ods of production will encounter many difficulties; it will 

* Again for the information of Mr. Bulgakov, who talks of "the 
latifundian degeneration of large-scale farming"! 



not proceed in a straight line, but in zigzag fashion; however, 
that the employment of new methods will take place, that 
the revolution in agriculture is inevitable, can hardly be 
doubted. "The substitution of electric motors for the majority 
of draught animals," rightly says Pringsheim, "means 
opening up the possibility of the machine system in agricul- 
ture.... What could not be achieved by steam power 
will certainly be achieved by electrical engineering, 
namely, the advancement of agriculture from the old 
manufacture stage to modern large-scale production" 
(loc. cit., p. 414.) 

We shall not dilate upon the enormous victory the intro- 
duction of electrical engineering in agriculture will represent 
(and partly already represents) for large-scale production; 
it is too obvious to require emphasis. It will be better to 
see which modern farms contain the rudiments of this "ma- 
chine system" that will be set in motion by a central power 
station. Before the machine system can be introduced, it is 
first of all necessary to test various kinds of machines, to 
conduct experiments with many combinations of machines. 
The information we require can be found in the returns of 
the German agricultural census of June 14, 1895. We have 
figures showing the number of farms in each category that 
used their own or hired machines. (Mr. Bulgakov, when cit- 
ing some of these figures on page 114, Vol. II, erroneous- 
ly takes them to apply to the number of machines used. In 
passing, it may be said that the statistics on the number 
of farms using machines, their own or hired, naturally bring 
out the superiority of large-scale farming to a smaller extent 
than is really the case. Big farmers have their own machines 
more often than small farmers, who are obliged to pay exor- 
bitant prices for the hire of machines.) The data relate to 
the use either of machines in general, or of a certain kind of 
machine, so that we are not able to determine whole 
machines the farms in each group use. But if for each group 
we compute the number of farms using each separate kind 
of machine, we shall obtain the number of cases in which ag- 
ricultural machines of all kinds are used. The following table 
presents the data drawn up in this manner and shows how 
the ground is being prepared for the "machine system" in 


Per hundred farms 

Size of farms 

Number of farms 
that used agri- 
cultural ma- 
chines generally 

Number of in- 
stances in which 
some kind of 
machine was 
used (1895) 

Under 2 hectares . . . 

2 to 5 " ... 

5 to 20 " ... 
20 to 100 " ... 
100 and over " ... 



Average . . . 



Thus, in small farms under five hectares (these comprise 
more than three-fourths of the total in this group, viz., 
4,100,000 out of 5,500,000, or 75.5 per cent; but they account 
for only 5,000,000 hectares out of a total of 32,500,000 hec- 
tares, or 15.6 per cent), the number of cases in which agri- 
cultural machines of any type are used (we have included 
dairy machinery) is quite insignificant. Of the medium farms 
(from 5 to 20 hectares) fewer than half use machines gener- 
ally, while the number of instances showing use of agricul- 
tural machines represents only 56 per hundred farms. Only 
under large-scale capitalist production* do we see the ma- 
jority of farms (from three-quarters to nine-tenths) using 
machinery and the beginning of the establishment of a ma- 
chine system: on every farm there is more than one case of 
use of machinery. This means that several machines are used 
on a single farm: for example, farms of over 100 hectares use 
about four machines each (352 per cent as compared with 94 
per cent using machines generally). Of 572 latifundia (farms 
of 1,000 hectares and over), 555 use machines; and the num- 
ber of cases in which machines were used is 2,800, i.e., each 
farm used five machines. It is clear from this which farms are 
preparing the ground for the "electrical" revolution and 
which will mostly take advantage of it. 

* Over 20 hectares only 300,000 farms out of 5 500,000, i.e., 
only 5.5 per cent of the total, but they occupy 17,700,000 hectares 
of land out of 32,500,000, or 54.4 per cent of the total farmland. 





From Hertz let us pass to Mr. Chernov. As the latter merely 
"talks with his readers" about the former, we shall confine 
ourselves here to a brief description of Hertz' method of 
argument (and Mr. Chernov's method of paraphrasing him), 
and (in the next essay) take up certain new facts advanced by 
the "Critics". 

It will suffice to cite but a single example to show the sort 
of theoretician Hertz is. At the very beginning of his book 
we find a paragraph under the pretentious heading, "The 
Concept of National Capitalism". Hertz wants nothing more 
nor less than to present a definition of capitalism. He writes: 
"We can, of course, characterise it as a system of national 
economy which rests juridically on the completely applied 
principles of freedom of the person and of property, techni- 
cally on production on a wide [large?] scale,* socially on the 
alienation of the means of production from the direct pro- 
ducers, politically on the possession by the capitalists of the 
central political power [the concentrated political power of 
the state?] ... solely on the economic basis of the distribution 
of property" (Russian translation, p. 37). These definitions 
are incomplete, and certain reservations must be made, says 
Hertz; for example, domestic industry and small tenant farm- 
ing still persist everywhere side by side with large-scale 
production. "The realistic [sic\] definition of capitalism as a 
system under which production is under the control [domi- 
nation and control] of capitalists [owners of capital] is like- 
wise not quite suitable." A fine "realistic" definition of 
capitalism as the domination of capitalists! How character- 
istic it is — this now fashionable, quasi-realistic, but in 
fact eclectic quest for an exhaustive enumeration of all the 
separate symptoms and separate "factors". The result, of 

* Mr. V. Chernov translates it (Russkoye Bogatstvo, No. 4, p. 132): 
"on production which has achieved a high state of development". 
That is how he contrived to "understand" the German expression 
"aw/ grosser Stufenleiter"U 


course, is that this meaningless attempt to include into a 
general concept all the partial symptoms of single phenomena, 
or, conversely, to "avoid conflict with extremely var- 
ied phenomena" — an attempt that merely reveals an ele- 
mentary failure to understand what science is — leads the 
"theoretician" to a point where he cannot see the wood for 
the trees. Thus, Hertz lost sight of such a detail as commod- 
ity production and the transformation of labour-power into 
a commodity! Instead, he invented the following genetic 
definition, which — as punishment for the inventor — ought 
to be quoted in full: Capitalism is "that state of national econ- 
omy in which the realisation of the principles of free exchange 
and freedom of the person and of property has reached its 
(relative) high point which is determined by the economic 
development and the empirical conditions of each separate 
national economy" (S. 10, Russian translation, pp. 38-39, 
not quite exact). Filled with awe and admiration, Mr. Cher- 
nov, of course, transcribes and describes this twaddle, and, 
moreover, treats the readers of Russkoye Bogatstvo for the 
space of thirty pages to an "analysis" of the types of nation- 
al capitalism. From this highly instructive analysis we 
can extract a number of extremely valuable and by no means 
stereotyped references, for example, to the "independent, 
proud, and energetic character of the Briton"; to the "sub- 
stantial" English bourgeoisie and the "unattractiveness" of 
their foreign policy; to the "passionate and impulsive temper- 
ament of the Latin race" and to the "methodicalness of the 
Germans" (Russkoye Bogatstvo, No. 4, p. 152). "Dogmatic" 
Marxism, of course, is utterly annihilated by this analy- 

No less annihilating is Hertz' analysis of mortgage 
statistics. At all events, Mr. Chernov goes into ecstasies 
over it. "The fact is," he writes, "...Hertz' figures have not 
yet been refuted by anyone. Kautsky, in his reply to Hertz, 
dwelt at extreme length upon certain details [such as his 
proof of Hertz' distortions — a fine 'detail'!], but to Hertz' 
argument on the question of mortgages he made no reply 
whatever' (Russkoye Bogatstvo, No. 10, p. 217, Mr. Chernov's 
italics). As can be seen from the reference on page 238 in the 
cited issue of Russkoye Bogatstvo, Mr. Chernov is aware of 
the article Kautsky wrote in reply ("Zwei Kritiker meiner 



Agrarfrage'* in Neue Zeit, 18, 1, 1899-1900). Mr. Cher- 
nov could not but know, too, that the periodical in which 
the article appeared is prohibited in Russia by the censor. 
The more noteworthy, therefore, as characterising the fea- 
tures of the modern "Critics", is the fact that the very words 
which Chernov himself underlines contain a flagrant 
untruth; for on the question of mortgages Kautsky replied 
to "Hertz, David, Bernstein, Schippel, Bulgakov, e tutti 
quanti' ',** on pp. 472-77, in the selfsame article to which Mr. 
Chernov refers. To rectify distorted truth is a tedious duty; 
but since we have to deal with the Messrs. Chernov, it is a 
duty not to be neglected. 

Kautsky, of course, replied to Hertz with ridicule; for in 
regard to this question too Hertz revealed his inability, or 
unwillingness, to understand what is what and an inclination 
to repeat the threadbare arguments of bourgeois economists. 
Kautsky in his Agrarfrage (S. 88-89) dealt with the concen- 
tration of mortgages. "Numerous petty village usurers," 
wrote Kautsky, "are being forced more and more into the back- 
ground, forced to yield to big centralised capitalist or pub- 
lic institutions which monopolise mortgage credit." Kautsky 
enumerates certain capitalist and public institutions of 
this type; he speaks of mutual land credit societies (genos- 
senschaftliche Bodenkreditinstitute) and points to the fact 
that savings-banks, insurance companies, and many corporations 
(S. 89) invest their funds in mortgages, etc. Thus, until 
1887, seventeen mutual credit societies in Prussia had is- 
sued mortgage bonds to the amount of 1,650,000,000 marks. 
"These figures show how enormously ground-rent is concen- 
trated in the hands of a few central institutions [our italics]; 
but this concentration is rapidly increasing. In 1875 German 
mortgage banks issued mortgage bonds to the amount of 
900,000,000 marks and in 1888 to the amount of 
2,500,000,000 marks, while in 1892 the amount reached a 
total of 3,400,000,000 marks, concentrated in 31 banks (as 
against 27 in 1875)" (S. 89). This concentration of ground-rent 
is a clear indication of the concentration of landed property. 

* "Two Critics of My Agrarian Question ." — Ed. 
**Kautsky's expression, p. 472 of Neue Zeit. (E tutti quanti — 
and all others of their stripe. — Ed.) 


"No!" retort Hertz, Bulgakov, Chernov & Co. "We find 
a very decided tendency towards decentralisation and the 
break-up of property" (Russkoye Bogatstvo, No. 10, p. 216); 
for "more than a fourth of the mortgage credits are concen- 
trated in the hands of democratic [sic\] credit institutions 
with a vast number of small depositors" (ibid.). Presenting 
a series of tables, Hertz attempts with extraordinary zeal to 
prove that the bulk of the depositors in savings-banks, etc., 
are small depositors. The only question is — what is the pur- 
pose of this argument? Kautsky himself referred to the mu- 
tual credit societies and savings-banks (while not, of course, 
imagining, as does Mr. Chernov, that they are particularly 
"democratic" institutions). Kautsky speaks of the centrali- 
sation of rent in the hands of a few central institutions, and 
he is met with the argument about the large number of small 
depositors in savings-banks!! And this they call "the break- 
up of property"! What has the number of depositors in mort- 
gage banks to do with agriculture (the subject under discus- 
sion being the concentration of rent)? Does a big factory cease 
to signify the centralisation of production because its shares 
are distributed among a large number of small capitalists? 
"Until Hertz and David informed me," wrote Kautsky in his 
reply to the former, "I had not the slightest idea where the 
savings-banks obtained their money. I thought they operat- 
ed with the savings of the Rothschilds and the Vanderbilts." 

In regard to transferring mortgages to the state, Hertz 
says: "This would be the poorest way of fighting big capital, 
but, of course, the best means of arousing the large and con- 
stantly increasing army of the smallest property-owners, 
particularly the agricultural labourers, against the proponents 
of such a reform" (S. 29, Russian translation, p. 78. Mr. 
Chernov smugly repeats this on pp. 217-18 of Russkoye 

These then are the "property-owners" over whose increase 
Bernstein & Co. get so wrought up! — retorts Kautsky. 
Servant girls with twenty marks in the savings-bank! And 
again we have the threadbare argument employed against 
the socialists that by "expropriation" they will rob a large 
army of working people. None other than Eugen Richter 
zealously advanced this argument in the pamphlet he pub- 
lished after the repeal of the Exceptional Law Against the 



Socialists 70 (and which employers bought up by the thou- 
sands to distribute gratis among their workers). In that 
pamphlet Richter introduces his celebrated "thrifty Agnes", 
a poor seamstress who had a score or so of marks in the sav- 
ings-bank and was robbed by the wicked socialists when 
they seized political power and nationalised the banks. 
That is the source from which the Bulgakovs,* Hertzes, and 
Chernovs draw their "critical" arguments. 

"At that time," says Kautsky, concerning Eugen Richter's 
"celebrated" pamphlet, "Eugen Richter was unanimously 
ridiculed by all Social-Democrats. Now we find people among 
the latter who, in our central organ [this, I think, refers to 
David's articles in Vorwdrts], n sing a hymn of praise to a 
work in which these very ideas are reproduced. Hertz, we 
extol thy deeds! 

"For poor Eugen, in the decline of his years, this is indeed 
a triumph, and I cannot refrain from quoting for his pleasure 
the following passage from that very page in Hertz' book: 
'We see that the small peasants, the urban house-owners, 
and especially the big farmers, are expropriated by the lower 
and middle classes the bulk of which undoubtedly consists 
of the rural population'" (Hertz, S. 29, Russian translation, 
p. 77. Retold with rapture in Russkoye Bogatstvo, No. 10, 
pp. 216-17). "David's theory of 'hollowing out' [Aushoh- 
lung] capitalism by collective wage agreements [Tarifge- 
meinschaften] and consumers' co-operative societies is now 
excelled. It pales into insignificance before Hertz' expropria- 
tion of the expropriators by means of savings-banks. Thrif- 
ty Agnes, whom everybody considered dead, has come to life 
again" (Kautsky, loc. cit., S. 475), and the Russian "Critics", 
together with the publicists of Russkoye Bogatstvo, hasten to 
transplant this resurrected "thrifty Agnes" to Russian soil 
in order to discredit "orthodox" Social-Democracy. 

And this very Mr. V. Chernov, spluttering with enthusiasm 
over Hertz' repetition of Eugen Richter's arguments, "anni- 
hilates" Kautsky in the pages of Russkoye Bogatstvo and in 
the symposium. At the Glorious Post, compiled in honour of 
Mr. N. Mikhailovsky. It would be unfair not to present some 

* Mr. Bulgakov resorted to this argument against Kautsky with 
regard to the question of mortgages, in Nachalo, and in German, in 
Braun's Archiv. 



of the gems of this tirade. "Kautsky, again following Marx," 
writes Mr. Chernov in Russkoye Bogatstvo, No. 8, p. 229, 
"admits that the progress of capitalist agriculture leads to 
the reduction of nutritive matter in the soil: in the form of 
various products, something is continuously being taken 
from the land, sent to the towns, and never restored to the 
land.... As you see, on the question of the laws of the fertil- 
ity of the soil, Kautsky helplessly [sic\] repeats the words of 
Marx, who bases himself upon the theory of Liebig. But 
when Marx wrote his first volume, Liebig's 'law of restora- 
tion' was the last word in agronomics. More than half a cen- 
tury has elapsed since that discovery. A complete revolution 
has taken place in our knowledge of the laws governing soil 
fertility. And what do we see? The whole post-Liebig period, 
all the subsequent discoveries of Pasteur and Ville, Solari's 
experiments with nitrates, the discoveries of Berthelot, Hell- 
riegel, Wilfahrt, and Vinogradsky in the sphere of the bac- 
teriology of the soil — all this is beyond Kautsky's ken...." 
Dear Mr. Chernov! How wonderfully he resembles Turgenev's 
Voroshilov: you remember him in Smoke, the young Russian 
Privatdocent who went on a tour abroad. This Voroshilov was 
a very taciturn young man; but now and again he would break 
his silence and pour forth scores and hundreds of the most 
learned of names, the rarest of the rare. Our learned Mr. 
Chernov, who has utterly annihilated that ignoramus Kauts- 
ky, behaves in exactly the same manner. Only ... only had 
we not better consult Kautsky's book — glance at least at its 
chapter headings? We come to Chapter IV: "Modern Agri- 
culture", section d, "Fertilisers, Bacteria". We turn to section 
d and read: 

"Towards the end of the last decade the discovery was 
made that leguminous plants ... unlike other cultivated 
plants, obtain nearly the whole of their nitrogen supply, not 
from the soil, but from the air, and that far from robbing the 
soil of nitrogen they enrich it. But they possess this property 
only when the soil contains certain micro-organisms which 
adhere to their roots. Where these micro-organisms do not 
exist, it is possible by means of certain inoculations to give 
these leguminous plants the property of converting soil poor 
in nitrogen into nitrogen-rich soil, and in this way to ferti- 
lise this soil to a certain extent for other crops. As a general 



rule, by inoculating bacteria into these plants and by using 
a suitable mineral fertiliser (phosphoric acid salts and pot- 
ash fertilisers), it is possible to obtain the highest steady 
yields from the soil even without stable manure. Only thanks 
to this discovery has 'free farming' acquired a really firm 
basis" (Kautsky, pp. 51-52). Who, however, gave a scientif- 
ic basis to the remarkable discovery of nitrogen-gathering 
bacteria? — Hellriegel. . . . 

Kautsky's fault is his bad habit (possessed by many of 
the narrow orthodox) of never forgetting that members of a 
militant socialist party must, even in their scientific works, 
keep the working-class reader in mind, that they must strive 
to write simply, without employing unnecessary clever turns 
of phrase and those outer symptoms of "learning" which 
so captivate decadents and the titled representatives of 
official science. In this work, too, Kautsky preferred to relate 
in a clear and simple manner the latest discoveries in agro- 
nomics and to omit scientific names that mean nothing to 
nine-tenths of the readers. The Voroshilovs, however, act in 
precisely the opposite manner; they prefer to effuse a veri- 
table stream of scientific names in the domains of agronomics, 
political economy, critical philosophy, etc., and thus bury 
essentials under this scientific lumber. 

Thus, Voroshilov-Chernov, by his slanderous accusation 
that Kautsky is not acquainted with scientific names and 
scientific discoveries, blocked from view an extremely in- 
teresting and instructive episode in fashionable criticism, 
namely, the attack of bourgeois economics upon the social- 
ist idea of abolishing the antithesis between town and coun- 
try. Prof. Lujo Brentano, for instance, asserts that migra- 
tion from the country to the towns is caused, not by given 
social conditions, but by natural necessity, by the law of 
diminishing returns.* Mr. Bulgakov, following in the foot- 

* See Kautsky's article "Tolstoi und Brentano" in Neue Zeit, 
XIX, 2, 1900-01, No. 27. Kautsky compares modern scientific social- 
ism with the doctrines of Lev Tolstoi, who has always been a pro- 
found observer and critic of the bourgeois system, notwithstanding 
the reactionary naivete of his theory, and bourgeois economics whose 
"star" Brentano (the teacher, as we know, of Messrs. Struve, Bulgakov, 
Hertz, e tutti quanti), betrays the most incredible muddle-headed- 
ness in confounding natural with social phenomena, in confounding 
the concept of productivity with that of profitability, the concept 


steps of his teacher, stated in Nachalo (March 1899, p. 29) 
that the idea of abolishing the antithesis between town and 
country was "an absolute fantasy", which would "cause an 
agronomist to smile". Hertz writes in his book: "The abo- 
lition of the distinction between town and country is, it is 
true, the principal striving of the old Utopians [and even of 
the Manifesto]. Nevertheless, we do not believe that a social 
system containing all the conditions necessary for directing 
human culture to the highest aims achievable would really 
abolish such great centres of energy and culture as the big 
cities and, to soothe offended aesthetic sentiments, abandon 
these abundant depositories of science and art, without 
which progress is impossible" (S. 76. The Russian transla- 
tor, on p. 182, rendered the word "potenziert"* as "poten- 
tial". These Russian translations are an awful nuisance! 
On page 270, the same translator translates the sentence, 
"Wer isst zuletzt das Schweinl"** as "Who, in the end, is the 
pig?"). As can be seen, Hertz defends the bourgeois system 
from socialist "fantasies" with phrases that convey the 
"struggle for idealism" no less than do the writings of Messrs. 
Struve and Berdyaev. But his defence is not in the least 
strengthened by this bombastic, idealistic phrase-mongering. 

of value with that of price, etc. "This is not so characteristic of Bren- 
tano personally," Kautsky says justly (p. 25), "as of the school to which 
he belongs. The historical school of bourgeois economics, in its modern 
form, regards the striving towards an integral conception of the 
social mechanism as being a superseded standpoint [iiberwundener 
Standpunkt]. According to this view, economic science must not in- 
vestigate social laws and combine them into an integral system, but 
must confine itself to the formal description of separate social facts 
of the past and the present. Thus, it accustoms one to swim merely 
on the surface of things; and when a representative of this school, 
nevertheless, succumbs to the temptation to get to the bottom of 
things, he finds himself out of his depth and flounders helplessly 
round and round. In our party, too, there has been observed for some 
time a tendency to substitute for the Marxist theory, not some other 
theory, but that absence of all theory [Theorielosigkeit] which dis- 
tinguishes the historical school — a tendency to degrade the theore- 
tician to the position of a mere reporter. To those who desire, not 
simply an aimless skipping [Fortwurschteln] from instance to in- 
stance, but an integral, energetic movement forward towards a great 
goal, the Brentano confusion which we have exposed must serve 
as a warning against the present methods of the historical school." 
* Raised to a higher power, abundant. — Ed. 
**Who, in the end, eats the pig?— Ed. 



The Social-Democrats have proved that they know how to 
appreciate the historic services of the great centres of energy 
and culture by their relentless struggle against all that 
encroaches on the freedom of movement of the population 
generally and of the peasants and agricultural labourers in 
particular. That is why no agrarian can trap them, as he 
can the Critics, with the bait of providing the "muzhik" 
with winter "employment". The fact that we definitely rec- 
ognise the progressive character of big cities in capitalist 
society, however, does not in the least prevent us from 
including in our ideal (and in our programme of action, for 
we leave unattainable ideals to Messrs. Struve and Berdyaev) 
the abolition of the antithesis between town and country. 
It is not true to say that this is tantamount to abandoning 
the treasures of science and art. Quite the contrary: this is 
necessary in order to bring these treasures within the reach 
of the entire people, in order to abolish the alienation from 
culture of millions of the rural population, which Marx aptly 
described as "the idiocy of rural life". 72 And at the present 
time, when it is possible to transmit electric power over 
long distances, when the technique of transport has been so 
greatly improved that it is possible at less cost (than at 
present) to carry passengers at a speed of more than 200 versts 
an hour,* there are absolutely no technical obstacles to the 
enjoyment of the treasures of science and art, which for cen- 
turies have been concentrated in a few centres, by the whole 
of the population spread more or less evenly over the entire 

And if there is nothing to prevent the abolition of the an- 
tithesis between town and country (not be imagined, of 
course, as a single act but as a series of measures), it is not an 
"aesthetic sentiment" alone that demands it. In the big cit- 
ies people suffocate with the fumes of their own excrement, 
to use Engels' expression, and periodically all who can, flee 
from the cities in search of fresh air and pure water. 73 In- 
dustry is also spreading over the countryside; for it, too, 
requires pure water. The exploitation of waterfalls, canals, 

* The proposal to construct such a road between Manchester and 
Liverpool was rejected by Parliament only because of the selfish op- 
position of the big railway magnates, who feared that the old com- 
panies would be ruined. 


and rivers to obtain electric power will give a fresh impetus 
to this "spreading out of industry". Finally — last, but not 
least* — the rational utilisation of city refuse in general, 
and human excrement in particular, so essential for agricul- 
ture, also calls for the abolition of the antithesis between 
town and country. It is against this point in the theory 
of Marx and Engels that the Critics decided to direct 
their agronomical arguments (the Critics preferred to refrain 
from fully analysing the theory, which is dealt with 
in great detail in Engels' Anti-Diihring, 14 and, as usual, 
limited themselves simply to paraphrasing fragments of 
the thoughts of a Brentano). Their line of reasoning is as 
follows: Liebig proved that it is necessary to restore to the 
soil as much as is taken from it. He was therefore of the opin- 
ion that throwing city refuse into the seas and rivers was a 
stupid and barbarous waste of materials essential for agri- 
culture. Kautsky agrees with Liebig's theory. But modern 
agronomics has proved that it is quite possible to restore the 
productive forces of the soil without the use of stable manure, 
namely, by means of artificial fertilisers, by the inoculation 
of certain bacteria into leguminous plants which collect nit- 
rates, etc. Consequently, Kautsky, and all those "orthodox" 
people, are simply behind the times. 

Consequently — we reply — here, too, the Critics commit 
one of their innumerable and endless distortions. After 
explaining Liebig's theory, Kautsky immediately showed 
that modern agronomics has proved that it is quite possible 
"to dispense altogether with stable manure" {Agrarfrage, S. 
50; see passage quoted above), but added that this was 
merely a palliative compared with the waste of human excre- 
ment entailed by the present system of city sewage disposal. 
Now, if the Critics were at all capable of discussing the es- 
sential points of the question, this is the point they should 
have disproved; they should have shown that it is not a 
palliative. But they did not even think of doing so. Need- 
less to say, the possibility of substituting artificial for natu- 
ral manures and the fact that this is already being done (part- 
ly) do not in the least refute the irrationality of wasting nat- 
ural fertilisers and thereby polluting the rivers and the air 

These words are in English in the original. — Ed. 



in suburban and factory districts. Even at the present time 
there are sewage farms in the vicinity of large cities which 
utilise city refuse with enormous benefit to agriculture; but 
by this system only an infinitesimal part of the refuse is uti- 
lised. To the objection that modern agronomics has refuted 
the argument that the cities agronomically exploit the 
countryside, with which the Critics present Kautsky as 
something new, he replies, on page 211 of his book, that 
artificial fertilisers "render it possible to avoid the diminu- 
tion of soil fertility, but the necessity to employ them to an 
increasing extent merely indicates still another of the nu- 
merous burdens agriculture has to bear, which are by no 
means a natural necessity, but a product of existing social 
relations" .* 

The words we have emphasised contain the "pivot" of the 
question which the Critics so zealously confuse. Writers like 
Mr. Bulgakov try to scare the proletariat with the bogy that 
the "grain question" is more terrible and important than the 
social question; they are enthusiastic over birth control and 
argue that "control of the increase of the population" is be- 
coming "the fundamental [sic\] economic condition" for the 
prosperity of the peasantry (II, 261), that this control is 
worthy of "respect", and that "much hypocritical indignation 
[only hypocritical, not legitimate, indignation against the 
present social system?] is roused among sentimental [?!] 
moralists by the increase in births among the peasant popula- 
tion, as if unrestrained lust [sic\] were in itself a virtue" 
(ibid.). Such writers must naturally and inevitably strive 
to keep in the background the capitalist obstacles to agricul- 
tural progress, to throw the entire blame for everything upon 
the natural "law of diminishing returns", and to present the 
idea of abolishing the antithesis between town and country 
as "pure fantasy". But what utter irresponsibility the Cher- 
novs betray when they repeat such arguments and at the same 
time reproach the Critics of Marxism for "lacking principles 
and for being eclectics and opportunists" (Russkoye Bogat- 
stvo, No. 11, p. 246)?! What spectacle could be more comical 

* "It goes without saying," continues Kautsky, "that artificial 
fertilisers will not disappear with the fall of capitalism; but they 
will enrich the soil with special materials and not fulfil the whole 
task of restoring its fertility." 


than that of Mr. Chernov reproving others for lack of prin- 
ciples and for opportunism. 

All the other critical exploits of our Voroshilov are identical 
to what we have just examined. 

Voroshilov assures us that Kautsky fails to understand the 
difference between capitalist credit and usury; that he betrays 
utter failure, or unwillingness, to understand Marx, in main- 
taining that the peasant fulfils the functions of entrepre- 
neur and, as such, stands in the same relation to the pro- 
letariat as the factory owner. Beating his breast, Voroshilov 
cries out: "I say this boldly because I feel [sicl] the ground 
firmly under my feet" (At the Glorious Post, p. 169). In all 
this, rest assured, Voroshilov is again hopelessly confusing 
things and boasting as usual. He "failed to see" the passages 
in Kautsky's book that deal with usury as such (Agrarfrage, 
S. 11, 102-04, especially 118, 290-92), and with all his might 
forces an open door, shouting as usual about Kautsky's "doc- 
trinaire formalism", "moral hard-heartedness", "mockery at 
human sufferings", and so forth. In regard to the peasant ful- 
filling the functions of entrepreneur, apparently this aston- 
ishingly complicated idea is beyond the scope of Voroshi- 
lov's comprehension. In the next essay, however, we shall 
try to clarify this for him with very concrete examples. 

When Voroshilov seeks to prove that he is a real represent- 
ative of the "interests of labour" and abuses Kautsky for "driv- 
ing from the ranks of the proletariat numerous genuine 
working people" (op. cit., p. 167), such as the Lumpen- 
proletariat, domestic servants, handicraftsmen, etc., then 
the reader can be assured that Voroshilov is again muddling 
things together. Kautsky examines the distinguishing char- 
acteristics of the "modern proletariat" which created the 
modern "Social-Democratic proletarian movement" (Agrar- 
frage, S. 306); but to date the Voroshilovs have produced 
nothing to show that tramps, handicraftsmen, and domestic 
servants have created a Social-Democratic movement. The 
charge directed at Kautsky that he is capable of "driving" 
domestic servants (who in Germany are now beginning to 
join the movement), handicraftsmen, etc., from the ranks of 
the proletariat merely exposes to the full the impudence of 
the Voroshilovs; their display of friendship for the "genuine 
working people" increases as such phrases decrease in prac- 



tical significance, and they can attack with greater impunity 
the second part of the Agrarian Question, which has been 
suppressed by the Russian censor. Speaking, incidentally, of 
impudence, there are some other gems. In praising Messrs. 
N. — on 75 and Kablukov, while completely ignoring the 
Marxist criticism directed against them, Mr. Chernov, with 
affected naivete, asks: To whom do the German Social-Dem- 
ocrats refer when they speak of their Russian "comrades"? 
Let him who finds it hard to believe that such questions are 
asked in Russkoye Bogatstvo, turn to No. 7, p. 166. 

When Voroshilov asserts that Engels' "prediction" that the 
Belgian labour movement will prove barren owing to the 
influence of Proudhonism 76 "has been proved false", then the 
reader may well know that Voroshilov, self-assured in his, 
shall we say, "irresponsibility", is again distorting the facts. 
He writes: "It is not surprising that Belgium has never been 
orthodox Marxist, and it is not surprising that Engels, being 
displeased with her for that reason, predicted that the Belgian 
movement, owing to the influence of 'Proudhonist princi- 
ples', would pass 'von nichts durch nichts zu meats' .* Alas, 
this prediction has fallen through, and the breadth and many- 
sidedness of the Belgian movement enable it to serve to- 
day as a model from which many 'orthodox' countries are 
learning a great deal" (Russkoye Bogatstvo, No. 10, p. 234). 
The facts are as follows: In 1872 (seventy-two!), Engels was 
engaged in a polemic in the columns of the Social-Democrat- 
ic paper Volksstaaf 1 with the German Proudhonist Miil- 
berger to deflate the exaggerated importance attached to 
Proudhonism, he wrote: "The only country where the work- 
ing-class movement is directly under the influence of Prou- 
dhonist 'principles' is Belgium, and precisely as a result of 
this the Belgian movement comes, as Hegel would say, 
'from nothing through nothing to nothing'."** 

Thus, it is positively untrue to say that Engels "predicted" 
or "prophesied" anything. He merely spoke of the facts as 
they were, i.e., the situation that existed in 1872. And it is an 

* "From nothing through nothing to nothing." — Ed. 
**See the pamphlet Zur Wohnungsfrage, Zurich, 1887, in which 
Engels' articles against Miilberger, written in 1872, are reproduced 
together with his introduction dated January 10, 1887. The passage 
quoted will be found on p. 56. 78 


undoubted historical fact that at that time the Belgian move- 
ment was marking time precisely because of the predomi- 
nance of Proudhonism, whose leaders were opposed to col- 
lectivism and repudiated independent proletarian politi- 
cal action. Only in 1879 was a "Belgian Socialist Party" 
formed; and only from that time onwards was the campaign 
for universal suffrage conducted, marking the victory of Marx- 
ism over Proudhonism (the recognition of the political strug- 
gle of the proletariat organised in an independent class party) 
and the beginning of the pronounced successes of the move- 
ment. In its present programme the "Belgian Labour Party" 
has adopted all the fundamental ideas of Marxism (apart 
from certain minor points). In 1887, in a preface to the sec- 
ond edition of his articles on the housing question, Engels 
laid special emphasis on the "gigantic progress the interna- 
tional working-class movement has made during the past 
fourteen years". This progress, he writes, is largely due to the 
elimination of Proudhonism, which predominated at that 
time and which now has been almost forgotten. "In Belgium," 
Engels observes, "the Flemings have ousted the Walloons 
from the leadership of the movement, deposed [abgesetzt] 
Proudhonism, and greatly raised the level of the movement" 
(preface, p. 4. of the same pamphlet). 79 Russkoye Bogatstvo' s 
description of the facts is a veritable paragon of fidelity! 

When Voroshilov ... but enough! Of course, we cannot 
hope to keep up with this legally published magazine, 
which is able with impunity, month after month, to give 
vent to a flood of falsehood about "orthodox" Marxism. 



Details, details! cries Mr. Bulgakov in Nachalo (No. 1, 
pp. 7 and 13); and this slogan is repeated a hundred times in 
a hundred different sharps and flats by all the "Critics". 

* Chapters V-IX were published in the magazine Obrazova- 
niye with the following note by the author: "These essays were written 
in 1901. The first part was published in pamphlet form last year in 
Odessa [by Burevestnik (Storm Petrel) Publishers]. The second 



Very well, gentlemen, let us examine the details. 

It was utterly absurd of you to direct this slogan at Kaut- 
sky, since the principal task of a scientific study of the agrar- 
ian question, which is encumbered with a countless num- 
ber of disconnected details, was to present a general picture 
of the whole of the modern agrarian system in its develop- 
ment. Your slogan merely concealed your lack of scientif- 
ic principle and your opportunistic dread of any integral 
and well thought-out philosophy. Had you not read Kaut- 
sky's book in the manner of a Voroshilov, you would have 
been able to derive from it a great deal of information on 
handling and assimilating detailed statistics. And that you 
are unable to operate with detailed statistics we shall now 
demonstrate by a number of examples chosen by yourselves. 

In his article entitled "Peasant Barbarians", directed 
against Kautsky and published in the magazine of the Voro- 
shilovs, Sozialistische (??) Monatshefte (III. Jahrg., 1899, 
Heft 2), Eduard David triumphantly refers to "one of the 
most thorough and interesting monographs" on peasant farm- 
ing that have appeared recently, namely, that of Moritz 
Hecht, entitled Drei Dorfer der badischen Hard* (Leipzig, 
1895). Hertz clutched at this reference and, following David, 
cited some figures from this "excellent work" (S. 68, Rus- 
sian translation, p. 164) and "strongly recommended" (S. 
79, Russian translation, p. 188) the reading of the original 
or of the passage given by David. Mr. Chernov, in Rus- 
skoye Bogatstvo, hastened to repeat both David and Hertz, 
and contrasted to Kautsky's statements Hecht's "striking 
pictures of the prosperity of advanced, modern small farms" 
(No. 8, pp. 206-09). 

Let us then turn to Hecht. 

Hecht describes three Baden villages located at distances 
ranging from four to fourteen kilometres from Karlsruhe: 
Hagsfeld, Blankenloch, and Friedrichsthal. Although the 
farms are small, from one to three hectares, the peasants 
lead a prosperous and cultured life and gather an exception 
ally large yield from their land. David (followed by Chernov) 

part appears in print for the first time. Each essay is a more or less 
independent whole. Their common theme is the analysis of the criti- 
cism of Marxism in Russian literature." — Ed. 
* Three Villages in the Hard of Baden. — Ed. 



compares this yield with the average yield for the whole 
of Germany (in double centners per hectare: potatoes, 
150-160 and 87.8; rye and wheat, 20-23 and 10-13; hay, 
50-60 and 28.6) and exclaims: What do you think of that 
as an example of "backward small peasants"! In the first 
place, we reply, insofar as no comparison is made between 
small-and large-scale farming conducted under the same 
conditions, it is absurd to view this as an argument against 
Kautsky. Mr. Chernov appears even more absurd when he 
asserts, in Russkoye Bogatstvo, No. 8, p. 229, that "Kaut- 
sky's rudimentary view [regarding the agronomic exploita- 
tion of the village by the town] even exaggerates the shady 
aspects of capitalism", and when he cites, on page 209 of 
the same issue, as an argument against Kautsky, an instance 
in which this capitalist obstacle to the progress of agri- 
culture is eliminated by the fact that the villages he selects 
are situated in proximity to towns. While the overwhelming 
majority of the agricultural population lose an enormous 
quantity of natural fertilisers as a result of the depopulation 
of the rural districts by capitalism and the concentration of 
the population in the cities, an insignificant minority of 
suburban peasants obtain special benefits from their situ- 
ation and become rich at the expense of the impoverishment 
of the masses. It is not surprising that the yield in the vil- 
lages described is so high, considering that they spend the 
sum of 41,000 marks annually on manure from the army 
stables in the three neighbouring garrison towns (Karlsruhe, 
Bruchsal, and Durlach) and on liquid refuse from the urban 
drainage systems (Hecht, S. 65); artificial fertilisers are pur- 
chased only to the amount of 7,000 marks annually.* To 
attempt to refute the technical superiority of large-scale 
over small-scale farming by adducing instances of small farms 

* Incidentally, Mr. Chernov assures the readers of Russkoye Bo- 
gatstvo that there is "hardly any noticeable difference" in the size 
of the farms in those villages. But if the demand for details is not 
an empty phrase on his lips, he cannot forget that for these suburban 
peasants the amount of land is of much less importance than 
the amount of fertilisers used; and in this respect the difference 
is extremely marked. The yields are highest and the peas- 
ants most prosperous in the village of Friedrichsthal, although 
the land area in that village is the smallest. This village, farm- 
ing 258 hectares of land, spends 28,000 out of the total of 48,000 



operating under such conditions means merely to expose one's 
impotence. Secondly, to what extent do these instances really 
represent "genuine small peasants", echte und rechte Kleinbau- 
ern, as David says, and as Hertz and Chernov repeat after 
him? They mention only the area of the farms, and in this 
way prove only their inability to handle detailed statistics. 
As everyone knows, a hectare of land is to a suburban 
peasant what ten hectares are to a peasant living in a remote 
district; moreover, the very type of farms undergoes radical 
change because of the proximity of towns. Thus, the price 
of land in Friedrichsthal, the village which has the least 
land, but which is the most prosperous of the suburban vil- 
lages, ranges from 9,000 to 10,000 marks, five times the 
average price of land in Baden (1,938 marks), and about 
twenty times the price in remote districts in East Prussia. 
Consequently, judged by the size of output (the only exact 
index of the size of a farm), these are by no means "small" 
peasants. In regard to the type of farming, we see here a re- 
markably high stage of development of money economy and 
the specialisation of agriculture, which is particularly em- 
phasised by Hecht. They cultivate tobacco (45 per cent of 
the area under cultivation in Friedrichsthal) and high grades 
of potatoes (used partly for seed and partly for the table of 
the "gentry" — Hecht, S. 17 — in Karlsruhe); they sell milk, 
butter, sucking-pigs, and grown pigs to the capital, and them- 
selves buy grain and hay. Agriculture here has assumed a 
completely commercial character, and the peasant who con- 
ducts his farm in the neighbourhood of the capital is the 
purest type of petty -bourgeois; so that, had Mr. Chernov really 
familiarised himself with the details he borrows from others, 
he might have acquired some understanding of this category 
of "petty-bourgeois" peasant which is to him so mysterious 
(see Russkoye Bogatstvo, No. 7, p. 163). It is most curious 
that both Hertz and Mr. Chernov, while declaring that they 
are totally unable to understand how the peasant fulfils the 
functions of an entrepreneur, how he is able to figure as a 

marks spent on fertilisers, which amounts to 108 marks per hectare. 
Hagsfeld spends only 30 marks per hectare (12,000 marks for 397 
hectares), while Blankenloch spends only 11 marks per hectare (8,000 
marks for 736 hectares). 


worker at one moment and as an entrepreneur at another, 
refer to the detailed investigation of an author who says 
bluntly: "The peasant of the eighteenth century, with his 
eight-to-ten hectares of land, was a peasant ["was a peasant", 
Mr. Chernov!] and a manual labourer; the dwarf peasant 
of the nineteenth century, with his one or two hectares of 
land, is a brainworker, an entrepreneur and a merchant" 
(Hecht, S. 69; cf. S. 12: "The farmer has become a merchant 
and an entrepreneur." Hecht's italics). Well, have not Hertz 
and Mr. Chernov "annihilated" Kautsky in the Voroshilov 
manner for confusing the peasant with the entrepreneur? 

The clearest indication of the "entrepreneur" is his employ- 
ment of wage-labour. It is highly characteristic that not one 
of the quasi-socialists who referred to Hecht's work uttered 
a single word about that fact. Hecht, a most typical Klein- 
biirger of the ultra-loyal type, who waxes enthusiastic over 
the piety of the peasants and the "paternal solicitude" shown 
them by the Grand Duchy officials in general, and over their 
adoption of such an "important" measure as, in particular, 
the establishment of cookery schools, naturally tries to 
obscure those facts and to show that no "social gulf" separates 
the rich from the poor, the peasant from the agricultural 
labourer, or the peasant from the factory worker. "No agri- 
cultural day-labourer category exists," writes Hecht. "The ma- 
jority of the peasants are able to cultivate their land them- 
selves, with the help of their families; only a few in those 
three villages experience the need for outside help during the 
harvest or at threshing time; such families 'request' ['bit- 
ten'], to employ the local expression, certain men or women, 
who would never dream of calling themselves 'day-labour- 
ers', 'to help them'" (S. 31). There is nothing surprising in 
the fact that only a few farmers in the three villages men- 
tioned hire day-labourers, because many "farmers", as we shall 
see, are factory workers. What proportion of pure farmers 
employ hired labour Hecht does not say; he prefers to pack 
his candidate's thesis (the Germans call it doctoral disserta- 
tion), which is devoted only to three villages (of one of which 
he is a native), not with exact statistics concerning the var- 
ious categories of peasants, but with reflections on the high 
moral significance of diligence and thrift. (Notwithstanding 
this, or perhaps because of it, Hertz and David extol Hecht's 



work to the skies.) All we learn is that the wages of day-la- 
bourers are lowest in the most prosperous and purely agri- 
cultural village, Friedrichsthal, which is farthest away from 
Karlsruhe (14 kilometres). In Friedrichsthal, a day-labourer 
gets two marks a day, paying for his own keep, while in Hags- 
feld (4 kilometres from Karlsruhe and inhabited by factory 
workers) the wages of a day-labourer are three marks a day. 
Such is one of the conditions of the "prosperity" of the "real 
small peasants" so much admired by the Critics. "In those 
three villages," Hecht informs us, "purely patriarchal re- 
lations still exist between the masters and their servants 
[Gesinde in German means both domestic servants and farm 
labourers]. The 'master', i.e., the peasant with three to four 
hectares of land, addresses his men and women labourers as 
'thou' and calls them by their forenames; they call the peas- 
ant 'uncle' [Vetter] and the peasant's wife 'auntie' [Base], 
and address them as 'you'.... The labourers eat at the family 
table and are regarded as members of the family" (S. 93). 
Our "most thorough" Hecht says nothing about the extent to 
which hired labour is employed in tobacco growing, which 
is so widely developed in that district and which requires 
a particularly large number of labourers; but since he has said 
at least something about wage-labour, even this very loyal 
little bourgeois must be regarded as being much better able 
to handle the "details" of a research than the Voroshilovs of 
"critical" socialism. 

Thirdly, Hecht's research was used to refute the fact 
that the peasantry suffers from overwork and undernourishment. 
But here it turns out that the Critics preferred to ignore facts 
of the kind mentioned by Hecht. They cleverly utilised that 
conception of the "middle" peasant by means of which both 
the Russian Narodniks and the West-European bourgeois 
economists so extensively idealise the "peasantry". Speaking 
"generally", the peasants in the three villages mentioned are 
very prosperous; but even from Hecht's far from thorough 
monograph it is apparent that in this respect the peasants 
must be divided into three large groups. About one-fourth 
(or 30 per cent) of the farmers (the majority in Friedrichs- 
thal and a few in Blankenloch) are prosperous petty bourgeois, 
who have grown rich as a result of living in the vicinity of the 
capital. They engage in remunerative dairy farming (selling 


10-20 litres of milk a day) and tobacco growing (one example: 
gross income of 1,825 marks from 1.05 hectares of land under 
tobacco), fatten pigs for sale (in Friedrichsthal, 497 out of 
1,140 inhabitants keep pigs; in Blankenloch, 445 out of 
1,684; and in Hagsfeld, 220 out of 1,273 inhabitants), etc. 
This minority (who alone possess all the features of "pros- 
perity" so much admired by the Critics) are without doubt 
quite frequent employers of hired labour. In the next group, 
to which the majority of farmers in Blankenloch belong, 
standards are very much lower, less fertilisers is used, the 
yield is lower, there is less livestock (in Friedrichsthal, the 
number of livestock, expressed in terms of cattle, is 599 head 
on 258 hectares; in Blankenloch, 842 head on 736 hectares; 
and in Hagsfeld, 324 head on 397 hectares); "parlours" are 
more rarely seen in the houses, meat is far from being a daily 
fare, and many families practise (what is so familiar to us 
Russians) the selling of grain in the autumn — when they 
are hard pressed for money — and the re-purchasing of grain 
in the spring.* In this group, the centre of gravity is con- 
stantly shifting from agriculture to industry, and 103 Blan- 
kenloch peasants are already employed as factory workers in 
Karlsruhe. These, together with almost the entire population 
of Hagsfeld, form the third category (40-50 per cent of the 
total number of farms). In this category, agriculture is a side 
line in which mostly women are engaged. The standard of 
living is higher than in Blankenloch (the result of the in- 
fluence of the capital city), but poverty is strongly felt. The 
peasants sell their milk and for themselves sometimes pur- 
chase "cheaper margarine" (S. 24). The number of goats kept 
is rapidly increasing: from nine in 1855 to ninety-three in 
1893. "This increase," writes Hecht, "can be explained only 
by the disappearance of farms that are strictly speaking 
peasant farms, and the break-up [Auflosung] of the peasant 

* Incidentally, Hecht explains the economic backwardness of 
Blankenloch by the predominance of natural economy and the ex- 
istence of common lands which guarantees to every person on reaching 
the age of 32 a strip of land (Allmendgut) of 36 ares (1 are = 0.01 hec- 
tare. — Ed.), irrespective of whether he is "lazy or diligent, thrifty 
or otherwise" (S. 30). Hecht, for all that, is opposed to dividing up 
the common lands. This, he says, is a sort of public charity institu- 
tion (Altersversorgung) for aged factory workers, whose numbers are 
increasing in Blankenloch. 



class into a class of rural factory workers possessing extreme- 
ly small plots of land" (S. 27). Parenthetically, it should 
be said that between 1882 and 1895 the number of goats in 
Germany increased enormously: from 2,400,000 to 3,100,000, 
which clearly reveals the reverse of the progress of the "sturdy 
peasantry" which the Bulgakovs and the petty-bourgeois 
socialist "Critics" laud to the skies. The majority of the work- 
ers walk three and a half kilometres every day to their 
factory in the town, because they cannot afford to spend even 
one mark (48 kopeks) a week on railway fares. Nearly 150 
workers out of the 300 in Hagsfeld find it beyond their means 
to pay even 40 or 50 pfennigs for dinner in the "public dining- 
room" and have their dinners brought to them from home. 
"Punctually at eleven o'clock," writes Hecht, "the poor 
womenfolk put the dinners in their pots and carry them to 
the factory" (S. 79). As for the working women, they, too, 
work at the factory ten hours a day, and all they receive for 
their toil is from 1.10 to 1.50 marks (the men receive 2.50 
to 2.70 marks); at piece-work they earn from 1.70 to 2.00 
marks. "Some of the working women try to supplement their 
meagre wages by some auxiliary employment. In Blanken- 
loch four girls work at the paper mill in Karlsruhe, and they 
take home paper to make bags at night. Working from eight 
p. m. to eleven p. m. [sic\], they can make 300 bags, for which 
they receive 45-50 pfennigs; this supplement to their small 
daily earnings goes to pay their railway fares to and from 
work. In Hagsfeld, several women who worked in factories 
as girls earn a little extra money polishing silverware on 
winter evenings" (S. 36). "The Hagsfeld worker," says Hecht, 
moved, "has a permanent residence not by imperial order, 
but as a result of his own efforts; he has a little house which he 
is not compelled to share with others, and a small plot of 
land. But more important than these real possessions is the 
consciousness that they have been acquired by his own dil- 
igence. The Hagsfeld worker is both a factory worker and a 
peasant. Those with no land of their own rent at least a few 
strips to supplement their income by working in their spare 
time. In the summer, when work in the factory starts only 
["only"!] at seven o'clock, the worker rises at four in order to 
hoe potatoes in his field, or to carry fodder to the cattle. Or 
when he returns from work at seven in the evening, what is 


there for him to do, especially in the summer? Well, he puts 
in an hour or an hour and a half in his field; he does not want 
a high rent from his land — he merely wants to make full 
use [sic\] of his labour-power...." Hecht goes on at great 
length in this unctuous strain and concludes his book with the 
words: "The dwarf peasant and the factory worker have both 
[sic\] raised themselves to the position of the middle class, 
not as a result of artificial and coercive measures, but as a 
result of their own diligence, their own energy, and the high- 
er morality they have reached."* 

"The three villages of the Baden Hard now represent 
one great and broad middle class" (Hecht's italics). 

There is nothing astonishing in the fact that Hecht writes 
in this vein, for he is a bourgeois apologist of the common or 
garden variety. But what name do those people deserve who, 
to deceive others, call themselves socialists, who paint real- 
ity in still brighter colours than does Hecht, point to the 
prosperity of the bourgeois minority as general progress, and 
conceal the proletarisation of the majority with the stale 
shibboleth "unification of agriculture and industry"? 



For a change let us go from distant South Germany to 
East Prussia, nearer to Russia. We have before us a highly 
instructive and detailed investigation of which Mr. Bulga- 
kov, who clamours so loudly for details, has been totally 
unable to make use. "A comparison of the data on the real 

* Hecht says very much more about this "higher morality", and 
no less than Mr. Bulgakov waxes enthusiastic over the "sober mari- 
tal policy", the "iron diligence", the "thrift", and the "temperance" 
he even quotes a "well-known peasant proverb": Man sieht nicht auf 
die Goschen (d. h. Mund), sondern auf die Groschen, which freely trans- 
lated means: We work, not so much for our mouths as for our 
pockets. We suggest that our readers compare this proverb with 
the "doctrine" of the Kiev professor, Bulgakov: that peasant farming 
(since it seeks neither lent nor profit) is "the most advantageous 
form of organisation of agriculture that society [sicl] can have" 
(Bulgakov, I, 154). 



productivity of large and small farms," writes Mr. Bulgakov, 
"cannot provide an answer to the question of their tech- 
nical advantages, since the farms compared may be operat- 
ing under different economic conditions. The most that can 
be obtained from such data is the factual confirmation of 
the negative conclusion that large-scale production possesses 
no technical advantages over small-scale production, not 
only theoretically, but, under certain conditions, also practi- 
cally. Quite a few comparisons of this kind have been made in 
economic literature, at all events sufficient to undermine the 
belief of the unbiased and unprejudiced reader in the advan- 
tages of large-scale production generally" (I, 57-58). In a 
footnote the author cites two instances. The first is Auh- 
agen's work, quoted by Kautsky in his Agrarfrage (S. Ill), 
as well as by Hertz (S. 69, Russian translation, p. 166), in 
which a comparison is made only between two farms in Han- 
over, one of 4.6 hectares and one of 26.5 hectares. In this 
example, the small farm has a higher yield per hectare than 
the large one, and Auhagen determined the income of the 
small farm to be higher than that of the large farm. Kautsky, 
however, has shown that this higher income is the result of 
under-consumption. Hertz attempted to refute this evidence, 
but with his usual success. Since Hertz' work has now been 
translated into Russian, while Kautsky's reply to Hertz is 
unknown in Russia, we shall, very briefly, give the substance 
of this reply (in the cited article in Neue Zeit). Hertz, as 
usual, distorted Kautsky's arguments and alleged that he 
referred only to the fact that the owner of the big farm is 
able to send his son to the Gymnasium. In actuality, Kautsky 
mentioned this merely to illustrate the standard of living, 
and had Hertz quoted in full the budgets of the two families 
in question (each consisting of five persons), he would have 
obtained the following figures: 1,158.40 marks for the small 
farm and 2,739.25 marks for the large farm. If the family of 
the small farm lived on the same standard as that of the large 
farm, the small farm would prove less profitable than the large 
one. Auhagen estimates the income of the small farm at 
1,806 marks, i.e., 5.45 per cent of the capital invested 
(33,651 marks), and that of the large farm at 2,720 marks, or 
1.82 per cent of the capital invested (149,559 marks). If we 
make allowance for the under-consumption of the small 


farmer, we shall find that his income is equal to 258 marks, or 
0.80 per centl And this, when the amount of labour involved 
is disproportionately high: on the small farm there are 
three workers to 4.6 hectares, that is, one worker to 1.5 
hectares, while on the large farm there are eleven (see Hertz, S. 
75, Russian translation, p. 179) to 26.5 hectares, that is one 
worker to 2.4 hectares. Furthermore, we shall not dwell on 
the circumstance, justly ridiculed by Kautsky, that the 
alleged socialist Hertz compares the labour of the children of 
modern peasants to Ruth's 80 gleaning! Mr. Bulgakov con- 
fines himself merely to presenting the figures of the yield 
per hectare, but says not a word about the respective standards 
of living of the small and big farmers. 

"We find another example," continues our advocate of 
details, "in the latest researches of Karl Klawki (Ueber Kon- 
kurrenzfdhigkeit des landwirtschaftlichen Kleinbetriebs. 
ThieVs Landwirtschaftliche Jahrbiicher, 1899, Heft 3-4).* His 
examples are taken from East Prussia. The author com- 
pares large, medium, and small farms by taking four of each 
kind. The specific feature of his comparisons is, first, the fact 
that expenditure and income are expressed in money, and, 
secondly, the fact that the author translates the cost of la- 
bour-power on the small farms, where it is not purchased, 
into money and places it to the expenditure account; such a 
method is hardly correct for our purpose [sic\ Mr. Bulgakov 
forgets to add that Klawki translates the cost of labour on 
all the farms into money and from the outset values the la- 
bour on the small farms at a lower rate!]. Nevertheless, we 
have...." There follows a table which for the moment we shall 
merely summarise: the average net profit per morgen (= l U hec- 
tare) on the large farm is ten marks, on the medium farm, 
eighteen marks, on the small farm, twelve marks. And Mr. 
Bulgakov concludes: "The highest profits are obtained on 
the medium farms; then come the small farms, while the large 
farms lag behind the others." 

We have seen fit to quote the entire passage in which Mr. 
Bulgakov compares the large and small farms. Now let us 
consider what is evidenced by Klawki's interesting work, 

* The Competitive Capacity of Small-Scale Production in Agri- 
culture — ThieVs Agricultural Yearbooks, 1899, Issue 3-4. — Ed. 



120 pages of which are devoted to a description of twelve 
typical farms existing under equal conditions. In the first 
place, we shall cite the statistics pertaining to these farms, 
and in the interest of space and clarity we shall confine 
ourselves to the average figures for the large, medium, and 
small farms (the average size of the farms in each category 
being 358, 50, and 5 hectares respectively). 

of farms 

Income and expenditure per morgen 
(1 morgen = 1/4 hectare) 

in marks 



of prod- 



from the 
sale of 

tion of 
own prod- 



Stock farming 



Stock farming 



Stock farming 




Net profit 


Hired workdays 

Total workdays 




















































It would appear, therefore, that all Mr. Bulgakov's con- 
clusions are fully confirmed by Klawki's work: the smaller 
the farm, the higher the gross income and the higher even 
the income from sales per morgen! We think that with the 
methods employed by Klawki — widely employed methods, 
in their main features common to all bourgeois and petty- 
bourgeois economists — the superiority of small-scale farm- 
ing in all or nearly all cases is proved. Consequently, the 
essential thing in this matter, which the Voroshilovs complete- 
ly fail to see, is to analyse those methods, and it is for this 
reason that Klawki's partial researches are of such enormous 
general interest. 

Let us start with the yields. It turns out that the yield of 
the great majority of cereals regularly and very considerably 

* a = where the value of the labour-power of the farmer and his 
family is not expressed in terms of money; b = if it is so expressed. 



diminishes with the diminution of the area of the farms. The 
yield (in centners per morgen) on the large, medium, and 
small farms respectively is: wheat 8.7, 7.3, 6.4; rye 9.9, 8.7, 
7.7; barley 9.4, 7.1, 6.5; oats 8.5, 8.7, 8.0; peas 8.0, 7.7, 
9.2;* potatoes 63, 55, 42; mangels 190, 156, 117. Only of 
flax, not grown on the large farms, do the small farms (3 out 
of 4) gather a bigger yield than the medium farms (2 out of 4), 
namely, 6.2 Stein (=18.5 pounds) as against 5.5. 

To what is the higher yield on the large farms due? Klawki 
ascribes decisive importance to the following four causes: 
(1) Drainage is almost entirely absent on the small farms, 
and even where it exists the drain pipes are laid by the farm- 
er himself and laid badly. (2) The small farmers do not 
plough their land deep enough, their horses being weak. 
(3) Most often the small farmers are unable to give their 
cattle sufficient fodder. (4) The small farmers have inferior 
manure, their straw is shorter, it is largely used as fodder 
(which also means that the feed is inferior), and less straw is 
used for bedding. 

Thus, the small farmers' cattle is weaker and inferior, and 
is kept in a worse condition. This circumstance explains the 
strange and glaring phenomenon that, notwithstanding the 
higher yield per morgen on the large farms, income from agri- 
culture per morgen, according to Klawki's computations, is 
less on the large than on the medium and small farms. The 
reason for this is that Klawki does not include fodder, either in 
disbursement or in income. In this way, things that in re- 
ality make for an essential difference between the large and 
small farms, a difference unfavourable to the latter, are arti- 
ficially and falsely equated. By this method of computation 
large-scale farming appears to be less remunerative than 
small-scale farming, because a larger portion of the land of 
the large farms is devoted to the cultivation of fodder (al- 
though the large farms keep a much smaller number of cattle 
per unit of land), whereas the small farmers "make shift" 
with straw for fodder. Consequently, the "superiority" of small- 
scale farming lies in its wasteful exploitation of the land (by 
inferior fertilisation) and of the cattle (by inferior fodder). 

* These are grown only on two out of the four farms in this cate- 
gory; in the large and medium categories, three out of four grow peas. 



Needless to say, such a comparison of the profitableness of 
different farms lacks all scientific value.* 

Another reason for the higher yield on large farms is that a 
larger number of the big farmers (and apparently, even, al- 
most they alone) marl the soil, utilise larger quantities of 
artificial fertilisers (the expenditure per morgen being 
0.81 marks, 0.38 marks, and 0.43 marks respectively) and 
Kraft futtermittel** (in large farms two marks per morgen, 
and in the others nil). "Our peasant farms," says Klawki, 
who includes the medium farms in the category of large peas- 
ant farms, "spend nothing on Kraft futtermittel. They are 
very slow to adopt progressive methods and are particularly 
chary of spending cash" (Klawki, op. cit., 461). The large 
farms are superior also in the method of cultivating the soil: 
we observe improved crop rotation on all four of the large 
farms, on three of the medium farms (on one the old three- 
field system is used), and only on one of the small farms (on 
the other three the three-field system is used). Finally, the 
big farmers use machinery to a far greater extent. True, 
Klawki himself is of the opinion that machinery is of no 
great consequence, but we shall not be satisfied with that 
"opinion"; we shall examine the statistics. The following eight 
kinds of machines — steam threshers, horse threshers, grain- 
sorting machines, sifters, seed-drills, manure spreaders, 
horse-drawn rakes, and rollers — are distributed among the 
farms described, as follows: on the four large farms, twenty- 
nine (including one steam thresher); on the four medium 
farms, eleven (not a single steam-driven machine); and on 
the four small farms, one machine (a horse-driven thresher). 

* It should be noted that a similarly false equation of obviously 
unequal quantities in small- and large-scale farming is to be found, 
not only in separate monographs but in the great bulk of contempo- 
rary agrarian statistics. Both French and German statistics deal with 
"average" live weight and "average" price per head of cattle in all cate- 
gories of farms. German statistics go so far in this method as to define 
the gross value of the whole of the cattle in various categories of 
farms (classified according to area). At the same time, however the 
reservation is made that the presumed equal value per head of cattle 
in different categories of farms "does not correspond to the reality" 
(S. 35). 

** Concentrated feed.— Ed. 


Of course, no "opinion" of any admirer of peasant farming can 
make us believe that grain-sorting machines, seed-drills, 
rollers, etc., do not affect the size of the crop. Incidentally, 
we have here data on machines belonging to certain definite 
owners, unlike the general run of German statistics, which 
register only cases of the use of machines, whether owned or 
hired. Obviously, such a registration will also have the effect 
of minimising the superiority of large-scale farming and of 
obscuring forms of "borrowing" machines, like the following 
described by Klawki: "The big farmer willingly lends the 
small farmer his roller, horse rake, and grain-sorting machine, 
if the latter promises to supply a man to do the mowing 
for him in the busy season" (443). Consequently, a certain 
number of the cases in which machines are employed on small 
farms, which, as we have shown, are rare, represent a trans- 
muted form of acquiring labour-power. 

To continue. Another case of erroneous comparison of 
obviously unequal quantities is Klawki's method of comput- 
ing the price of the product on the market as being equal 
for all categories of farms. Instead of taking actual trans- 
actions, the author takes as a basis an assumption that he 
himself points to as incorrect. The peasants sell most of 
their grain in their own locality, and merchants in small towns 
force down prices very considerably. "The large estates are 
better off in this respect, for they can send grain to the prin- 
cipal city in the province in considerable quantities. In 
doing so, they usually receive from 20 to 30 pfennigs more 
per centner than they could get in the small town" (373). 
The big farmers are better able to assess the value of their 
grain (451), and they sell it, not by measure, as the peasants 
do to their disadvantage, but by weight. Similarly, the big 
farmers sell their cattle by weight, whereas the price of the 
peasants' cattle is fixed simply on the basis of outer appear- 
ance. The big farmers can also make better arrangements for 
selling their dairy products, for they can send their milk to 
the towns and obtain a higher price than the middle farmers, 
who convert their milk into butter and sell it to merchants. 
Moreover, the butter produced on the medium farms is supe- 
rior to that produced on the small farms (use of separators, 
daily churning, and so forth), and the latter get from five to 
ten pfennigs per pound less. The small farmers have to 



sell their fat stock sooner (i.e., less matured) than the middle 
farmers, because they have a smaller supply of fodder (444). 
Klawki, in his monograph, leaves out of his calculations all 
these advantages — in their totality by no means unimpor- 
tant — which the large farms possess as sellers, just as the 
theoreticians who admire small-scale farming leave out this 
fact and refer to the possibility of improving matters by means 
of co-operation. We do not wish to confound the realities 
of capitalism with the possibilities of a petty-bourgeois 
co-operative paradise. Below we shall bring forward facts 
showing who really derives the most advantage out of 

Let us note that Klawki "is not concerned with" the 
labour of the small and middle farmers themselves in drain- 
ing the soil and in all kinds of repair work ("the peasants do 
the work themselves"), and so forth. The socialist calls this 
"advantage" enjoyed by the small farmer Ueberarbeit, over- 
work, and the bourgeois economist refers to it as one of the 
advantageous aspects ("for society"\) of peasant farming. 
Let us note that, as Klawki points out, the hired labourers 
get better pay and food on the medium farms than on the 
large farms, but they work harder: the "example" set by the 
farmer stimulates "greater diligence and thoroughness" (465). 
Which of these two capitalist masters — the landlord or his 
"own kind", the peasant — squeezes more work out of the 
labourer for the given wages, Klawki does not attempt to de- 
termine. We shall therefore confine ourselves to stating that 
the expenditure of the big farmers on accident and old-age 
insurance for their labourers amounts to 0.29 marks per mor- 
gen and that of the middle farmer to 0.13 marks (the small 
farmer here, too, enjoys an advantage in that he does not 
insure himself at all; needless to say, to the "great advantage 
of the society" of capitalists and landlords). We shall also 
bring an example from Russian agricultural capitalism. The 
reader who is familiar with Shakhovskoi's work Outside 
Agricultural Employment will probably remember the fol- 
lowing characteristic observation: The Russian homestead 
farmers and the German colonists (in the south) "pick" their 
labourers, pay them from 15 to 20 per cent more than do the 
big employers and squeeze 50 per cent more work out of them. 
This was reported by Shakhovskoi in 1896; this year we read 


in Torgovo-Promyshlennaya Gazeta* for instance, the fol- 
lowing communication from Kakhovka: "...The peasants and 
homestead farmers, as is the custom, paid higher wages 
(than those paid on the big estates), for they demand better 
workers and those possessing the greatest endurance" (No. 
109, May 16, 1901). There are hardly grounds for assuming 
that this condition is characteristic of Russia alone. 

In the table given above the reader saw two methods of 
computation — one that takes into account the money value 
of the farmer's labour-power, and one that does not. Mr. 
Bulgakov considers that to include this money value "is hard- 
ly correct". Of course, a precise budget of the farmers' and la- 
bourers' expenditure, in money and in kind, would be far 
more correct; but since we lack these data, we are obliged to 
make an approximate estimate of the family's money expen- 
diture. The manner in which Klawki makes this approxima- 
tion is extremely interesting. The big estate-owners do not 
work themselves, of course; they even have special salaried 
managers who carry out all the work of direction and super- 
vision (of four estates, three are supervised by managers and 
one is not; Klawki would consider it more correct to classify 
this last estate, consisting of 125 hectares, as a large peasant 
estate). Klawki "assigns" to the owners of two large estates 
2,000 marks per annum each "for their labour" (which on the 
first estate, for instance, consists of leaving the principal 
estate once a month for a few days' check-up on the manager's 
work). To the account of the farmer of 125 hectares (the 
first-mentioned estate consisted of 513 hectares) he 
"assigns" only 1,900 marks for the work of the farmer himself 
and of his three sons. Is it not "natural" that a farmer with a 
smaller amount of land should "make shift" with a smaller 
budget? Klawki allows the middle farmers from 1,200 to 1,716 
marks for the labour of the husband and wife, and in three 
cases also of the children. To the small farmers he allows 
from 800 to 1,000 marks for the work of four to five (sic!) 
persons, i.e., a little more (if more at all) than a labourer, 
an Instmann, gets, who with his family earns only from 800 
to 900 marks. Thus, we observe here another big step forward: 
first, a comparison is made between figures that are obvi- 

Commercial and Industrial Gazette. — TV. 



ously uncomparable; now it is declared that the standard 
of living must decline with the diminution in the size of 
the farm. But that means the a priori recognition of the fact 
that capitalism degrades the small peasants, a fact ostensibly 
to have been refuted by the computations of the "net 

And if, by the author's assumption, the money income 
diminishes with the diminution in the size of the farm, the 
drop in consumption is evident by direct data. Consumption 
of agricultural products on the farms amounts to the follow- 
ing per person (counting two children as one adult): large 
farm, 227 marks (average of two figures); medium farm, 218 
marks (average of four figures); small farm, 135 (sic!) marks 
(average of four figures). And the larger the farm, the larger 
is the quantity of additional food products purchased (S. 453). 
Klawki himself observes that here it is necessary to raise 
the question of Unterkonsumption (under-consumption), 
which Mr. Bulgakov denied, and which here he preferred to 
ignore, thus proving to be even more of an apologist than 
Klawki. Klawki seeks to minimise the significance of this 
fact. "Whether there is any under-consumption among the 
small farmers or not, we cannot say," he states, "but we think 
it is probable in the case of small farm IV [97 marks per 
head]. The fact is that the small peasants live very frugally 
[!] and sell much of what they, so to speak, save out of their 
mouths" (sich sozusagen vom Munde absparen).* He attempts 
to prove that this fact does not refute the higher "productiv- 
ity" of small-scale farming. If consumption were increased to 
170 marks, which is quite adequate (for the "younger broth- 

* It is interesting to note, for example, that the income from 
the sale of milk and butter on the large farms amounts to seven marks 
per morgen, on the medium farms three marks, and on the small farms 
seven marks. The point is, however, that the small peasants consume 
"very little butter and whole milk ... while the inhabitants of small farm 
IV [on which the consumption of products produced on the farm 
amounts to only 97 marks per head] do not consume these items at 
all" (450). Let the reader compare this fact (which, by the way, has 
long been known to all except the "Critics") with Hertz' grand reason- 
ing (S. 113, Russian translation, p. 270): "But does the peasant get 
nothing for his milk?" Who, in the end, eats the [milk-fed] pig? Not 
the peasant?" These utterances should be recalled more often as an 
unexcelled example of the most vulgar embellishment of poverty. 



er", 81 but not for the capitalist farmer, as we see), the figure 
for consumption per morgen would have to be increased and 
the income from sales reduced by six or seven marks. If this 
amount is subtracted (see table above), we get from 29 to 30 
marks, i.e., a sum still larger than that obtained on the large 
farms (S. 453). But if we increase consumption, not to this 
haphazardly-taken figure (and a low one at that, because 
"he'll manage somehow"), but to 218 marks (equal to the ac- 
tual figure on the medium farms), the income from the sale 
of products will drop on the small farms to 20 marks per mor- 
gen, as against 29 marks on the medium farms, and 25 marks 
on the large farms. That is to say, the correction of this one 
error (of the numerous errors indicated above) in Klawki's 
computations destroys all the "advantages" of the small 

But Klawki is untiring in his quest of advantages. The 
small peasants "combine agriculture with industrial occupa- 
tions": three small peasants (out of four) "diligently work 
as day-labourers and receive board in addition to their pay" 
(435). But the advantages of small-scale farming are partic- 
ularly marked during periods of crisis (as Russian readers 
have long known from the numerous exercises on this theme 
on the part of the Narodniks, now rehashed by the Chernovs): 
"During agricultural crises, as well as at other times, it is 
the small farms that possess the greatest stability, they are 
able to sell a relatively larger quantity of products than the 
other categories of farms by severely curtailing domestic 
expenses, which, it is true, must lead to a certain amount of 
under-consumption" (479 — Klawki's last conclusions; cf. 
S. 464). "Unfortunately, many small farms are reduced to 
this by the high rates of interest on loans. But in this way, 
although with great effort, they are able to keep on their feet 
and eke out a livelihood. Probably, it is the great diminution 
in consumption that chiefly explains the increase in the num- 
ber of small peasant farms in our locality indicated in the 
statistics of the Empire." And Klawki adduces figures for the 
Konigsberg Regierungsbezirk* where in the period between 
1882 and 1895 the number of farms under two hectares increased 

Konigsberg Administrative Area. — Ed. 



from 56,000 to 79,000, those from two to five hectares from 
12,000 to 14,000, and those from five to twenty hectares from 
16,000 to 19,000. This is in East Prussia, the very place in 
which the Bulgakovs claim to see the "elimination" of large- 
scale by small-scale production. And yet the gentlemen who 
give the bare statistics of the area of farms in this Suzdal 82 
fashion clamour for "details"! Naturally, Klawki considers 
that "the most important task of modern agrarian policy for 
the solution of the agricultural labourer problem in the 
East is to encourage the most efficient labourers to settle 
down by affording them the opportunity of acquiring a piece 
of land as their own property, if not in the first, then at least 
in the second [sic\] generation" (476). It doesn't matter that 
the Instleute who purchase a plot of land out of their sav- 
ings "in the majority of cases prove to be worse off financial- 
ly; they are fully aware of this themselves, but they are tempt- 
ed by the greater freedom", and the main task of bourgeois 
political economy (now, apparently, of the "Critics" also) is 
to foster this illusion among the most backward section of 
the proletariat. 

Thus, on every point Klawki's inquiry refutes Mr. Bul- 
gakov, who referred to Klawki. This inquiry demonstrates 
the technical superiority of large-scale production in agri- 
culture, the overwork and under-consumption of the small 
peasant and his transformation into a regular or day-labour- 
er for the landlord; it proves that there is a connection be- 
tween the increase in the number of small peasant farms and 
the growth of poverty and proletarisation. Two conclusions 
that follow from this inquiry are of exceptional significance 
from the point of view of principle. First, we see clearly the 
obstacle to the introduction of machinery in agriculture: 
the abysmal degradation of the small farmer, who is ready 
to "leave out of account" his own toil and who makes manual 
labour cheaper for the capitalist than machinery. Mr. Bul- 
gakov's assertions notwithstanding, the facts prove incon- 
testably that under the capitalist system the position of the 
small peasant in agriculture is in every way analogous to that 
of the handicraftsman in industry. Mr. Bulgakov's assertions 
notwithstanding, we see in agriculture a still further dimi- 
nution in consumption and a still further intensification of 
labour employed as methods of competing with large-scale 


production. Secondly, in regard to every manner of compari- 
son between the remunerativeness of small and large farms, 
we must once and for all declare as absolutely useless and vul- 
garly apologetic any conclusion that leaves out of account the 
following three circumstances: (1) How does the farmer eat, 
live, and work? (2) How are the cattle kept and worked? 
(3) How is the land fertilised, and is it exploited in a rational 
manner? Small-scale farming manages to exist by methods of 
sheer waste — waste of the farmer's labour and vital energy, 
waste of strength and quality of the cattle, and waste of the 
productive capacities of the land. Consequently, any inquiry 
that fails to examine these circumstances thoroughly is noth- 
ing more nor less than bourgeois sophistry.* 

It is not surprising, therefore, that the "theory" of the over- 
work and under-consumption of the small peasants in modern 
society has been so severely attacked by Messrs. the Crit- 
ics. In Nachalo (No. 1, p. 10) Mr. Bulgakov "undertook" to 
give any number of "citations" disproving Kautsky's asser- 

* Leo Huschke, in his work, Landwirtschaftliche Reinertrags- 
Berechnungen bei Klein-, Mittel- und Grossbetrieb dargelegt an typ- 
ischen Beispielen Mittelthiiringens [Assessment of Net Incomes of 
Small, Medium, and Large Farms, Based on Typical Examples from 
Middle Thuringia. — Ed.] (Gustav Fischer, Jena, 1902), justly points 
out that "it is possible by merely reducing the assessment" of the small 
farmer's labour-power to obtain a computation that will prove his 
superiority over the middle and the big farmer, and his ability to 
compete with them (S. 126). Unfortunately, the author did not carry 
his idea to its logical conclusion, and therefore did not present system- 
atic data showing the manner in which the cattle were kept, the meth- 
od of fertilising the soil, and the cost of maintaining the farmer's 
household in the various categories of farms. We hope to return to 
Herr Huschke's interesting work. For the moment we shall merely 
note his reference to the fact that small-scale farming fetches lower 
prices for its products than large-scale farming (S. 146, 155) and his 
conclusion that: "The small and medium farms strove to overcome 
the crisis which set in after 1892 (the fall in the prices of agricultur- 
al produce) by cutting down cash expenditure as much as possible, 
while the large farms met the crisis through increasing their yields 
by means of increased expenditure on their farms" (S. 144). Expendi- 
ture on seeds fodder and fertilisers in the period from 1887-91 to 
1893-97 was reduced on the small and medium farms and increased 
on the large farms. On the small farms this expenditure amounted 
to seventeen marks per hectare and on the large farms to forty-four 
marks. (Author's note to the 1908 edition. — Ed.) 



tions. From the studies of the League for Social and Politi- 
cal Questions, 83 Bduerliche Zustande (Conditions of the Peas- 
antry), repeats Mr. Bulgakov, "Kautsky, in his attempt to 
galvanise the corpse [sic\] of the obsolete dogma back to life, 
selected certain facts showing the depressed condition of 
peasant farming, which is quite understandable at the present 
time. Let the reader look for himself; he will find evidence 
there of a somewhat different character" (II, 282). Let us 
"look" for ourselves and verify the quotations given by this 
strict scientist, who, in part, merely repeats Hertz' quota- 
tions (S. 77, Russian translation, p. 183). 

"From Eisenach comes evidence of improvements in stock- 
breeding, in soil fertilisation, evidence of the use of machin- 
ery, and in general of progress in agricultural production...." 
We turn to the article on Eisenach (Bduerliche Zustande, 
I. Band). The condition of the owners of less than five hec- 
tares (of which there are 887 out of the 1,116 farms in this 
district) "is, in general, not very favourable" (66). "Insofar as 
they can work for the big farmers as reapers, day-labourers, 
etc., their condition is relatively good..." (67). Generally 
speaking, important technological progress has been made in 
the past twenty years, but "much is left to be desired, partic- 
ularly in regard to the smaller farms..." (72). "...the smaller 
farmers sometimes employ weak cows for field work...." 
Subsidiary earnings derive from tree felling and carting 
firewood; the latter "takes the farmers away from agriculture" 
and leads to "worsened conditions..." (69). "Nor does tree 
felling provide adequate earnings. In some districts the small 
landowners [Grundstiicksbesitzer] engage in weaving, which is 
miserably [leidlich] paid. In isolated cases work is obtained at 
cigar-making at home. Generally speaking, there is a shortage 
of subsidiary earnings..." (73). And the author, Okonomie- 
Commissar Dittenberger, concludes with the remark that, in 
view of their "simple lives" and their "modest requirements", 
the peasants are strong and healthy, which "is astonishing, 
considering the low nutritive value of the food consumed by 
the poorest class, among whom potatoes are the principal item 
of fare..." (74). 

That is how the "learned" Voroshilovs refute the "obso- 
lete Marxist prejudice that peasant farming is incapable 
of technological progress"! 



"...In regard to the Kingdom of Saxony, General Secre- 
tary Langsdorff says that in whole districts, particularly in 
the more fertile localities, there is now hardly any difference 
in intensiveness of cultivation between the large and the 
small estates". That is how Kautsky is refuted by the Aus- 
trian Voroshilov (Hertz, S. 77, Russian translation, pp. 
182-83), followed by the Russian Voroshilov (Bulgakov, II, 
282, referring to Bduerliche Zustande, II, 222). We turn to 
page 222 of the book from which the Critics cite, and follow- 
ing the words quoted by Hertz we read: "The difference is 
more marked in the hilly districts, where the bigger estates 
operate with a relatively large working capital. But here, 
too, very frequently, the peasant farms realise a no lesser 
net profit than do the large farms, since the smaller income 
is compensated by greater frugality, which at the pre- 
vailing very low level of requirements [bei der vorhanden- 
en grossen Bediirfnisslosigkeit] is carried to such lengths 
that the condition of the peasant is very often worse 
than that of the industrial worker, who has become accus- 
tomed to greater requirements" (Bduerliche Zustande, II, 
222). We read further that the prevailing system of land cul- 
tivation is crop rotation, which has become the predomi- 
nant system among the middle farmers, while "the three- 
field system is met with almost exclusively among the 
small peasant-owned estates". In regard to stock-breeding, 
progress is also observed everywhere. "Only in regard to 
the raising of horned cattle and the utilisation of dairy 
products does the peasant usually lag behind the big land- 
lord" (223). 

"Professor Ranke," continues Mr. Bulgakov, "testifies 
to the technological advance in peasant farming in the envi- 
rons of Munich, which, he says, is typical for the whole of 
Upper Bavaria." We turn to Ranke's article: Three Gross- 
bauer communities farming with the aid of hired labourers — 
69 peasants out of 119 hold more than 20 hectares each, 
comprising three-fourths of the land. Moreover, 38 of these 
"peasants" hold more than 40 hectares each, with an average 
of 59 hectares each; between them they hold nearly 60 per 
cent of the entire land.... 

We think this should suffice to reveal the manner in which 
Messrs. Bulgakov and Hertz "quote". 





"Due to lack of space," writes Hertz, "we cannot render 
the detailed and interesting judgements of the Inquiry 
into 37 communities in Baden. In the majority of cases 
they are analogous to those presented above: side by side 
with favourable, we find unfavourable and indifferent 
judgements; but nowhere in these entire three volumes of the 
Inquiry do the detailed budgets of expenditure give any grounds 
for the conclusion that ' 'under-consumption (Unterkonsump- 
tion), 'sordid and degrading poverty', etc., are prevalent" 
(S. 79, Russian translation, p. 188). The words we have em- 
phasised represent, as usual, a direct untruth. The very Ba- 
den Inquiry to which Hertz refers contains documentary 
evidence attesting to "under-consumption" precisely among 
the small peasantry. Hertz' distortion of the facts closely 
resembles the method that was especially cultivated by the 
Russian Narodniks and is now practised by all the "Critics" 
on the agrarian question, viz., sweeping statements about 
"the peasantry". Since the term "peasantry" is still more 
vague in the West than it is in Russia (in the West this 
social-estate is not sharply defined), and since "average" 
facts and conclusions conceal the relative "prosperity" (or 
at all events, the absence of starvation) among the minority 
and the privation suffered by the majority, apologists of 
all sorts have an unlimited field of activity. In actual fact, 
the Baden Inquiry enables us to distinguish various groups 
of peasants, which Hertz, although an advocate of "details", 
preferred not to see. Out of 37 typical communities, a 
selection was made of typical farms of big peasants (Gross- 
bauer), middle peasants, and small peasants, as well as of 
day-labourers, making a total of 70 peasants' (31 big, 
21 middle, and 18 small) and 17 day-labourers' households; 
and the budgets of these households were subjected to a very 
detailed examination. We have not been able to analyse 
all the data; but the principal results cited below will suf- 
fice to enable us to draw very definite conclusions. 

Let us first present the data on the general economic 
type of (a) large, (b) middle, and (c) small peasant farms 
(Anlage VI: "Uebersichtliche Darstellung der Ergebnisse 


der in den Erhebungsgemeinden angestellten Ertragsberechnun- 
gen."* We have divided this table into groups for the 
Grossbauer, Mittelbauer, and Kleinbauer respectively). Size 
of holdings — average in each group: (a) 33.34 hectares, 
(b) 13.5 hectares, and (c) 6.96 hectares — which is relatively 
high for a country of small land-holdings like Baden. But 
if we exclude the ten farms in communities Nos. 20, 22, 
and 30, where exceptionally large holdings are the rule 
(up to 43 hectares among the Kleinbauer and up to 170 hec- 
tares among the Grossbauerl), we shall obtain the follow- 
ing figures, more normal for Baden: (a) 17.8 hectares, 
(b) 10.0 hectares, and (c) 4.25 hectares. Size of families: 
(a) 6.4 persons, (b) 5.8, and (c) 5.9. (Unless otherwise stated, 
these and subsequent figures apply to all the 70 farms.) 
Consequently, the families of the big peasants are consider- 
ably larger; nevertheless, they employ hired labour to a 
far greater extent than the others. Of the 70 peasants, 54, 
i.e., more than three-fourths of the total, employ hired 
labour, namely: 29 big peasants (out of 31), 15 middle (out 
of 21), and 10 small (out of 18). Thus, of the big peasants, 
93 per cent cannot manage without hired labour, while 
the figure for the small peasants is 55 per cent. These fig- 
ures are very useful as a test of the current opinion (accepted 
uncritically by the "Critics") that the employment of hired 
labour is negligible in present-day peasant farming. Among 
the big peasants (whose farms of 18 hectares are included in 
the category of 5-20 hectares, in wholesale descriptions reck- 
oned as real peasant farms), we see pure capitalist farming: 
24 farms employ 71 labourers — almost 3 labourers per farm, 
and 27 farmers employ day-labourers for a total of 4,347 
days (161 man-days per farmer). Compare this with the size 
of the holdings of the big peasants in the environs of Munich, 
whose "progress" served our bold Mr. Bulgakov as a refuta- 
tion of the "Marxist prejudice" regarding the degradation of 
the peasants by capitalism! 

For the middle peasants we have the following figures: 
8 employ 12 labourers, and 14 employ day-labourers for a 
total of 956 man-days. For the small peasants: 2 employ 

* Appendix VI: "Brief Review of the Results of the Assessment 
of Incomes in Communities Investigated." — Ed. 



2 labourers, and 9 employ day-labourers for a total of 
543 man-days. One-half the number of small peasants employ 
hired labour for 2 months (543:9=60 days), i.e., in the most 
important season for the farmers (notwithstanding the fact 
that their farms are larger, the production of these small 
peasants is very much lower than that of the Friedrichs- 
thal peasants, of whom Messrs. Chernov, David, and Hertz 
are so enamoured). 

The results of this farming are as follows: 31 big peasants 
made a net profit of 21,329 marks and suffered a loss of 
2,113 marks, i.e., a total profit for this category of 19,216 
marks, or 619.9 marks per farm (523.5 marks if 5 farms in 
communities Nos. 20, 22, and 30 are excluded). For the medi- 
um farms the corresponding amount will be 243.3 marks 
(272.2 marks, if the 3 communities are excluded), and for 
the small farms, 35.3 marks (37.1 marks, if the 3 communi- 
ties are excluded). Consequently, the small peasant, liter- 
ally speaking, can barely make ends meet and only just 
manages to do so by cutting down consumption. The Inquiry 
(Ergebnisse, etc., in Vol. IV of Erhebungen , 84 S. 138) con- 
tains figures showing the consumption of the most important 
food items on each farm. Below we quote these data as aver- 
ages for each category of peasants: 

Category of peasants 

Consumption per person 
per day 

per person 





etc., per 













Middle " 







Small " 













These are the data in which our bold Hertz "failed to per- 
ceive" either under-consumption or poverty! We see that 
the small peasant, as compared with those of the higher 
groups, reduces his consumption very considerably, and 


that his food and clothing are little better than those of the 
day-labourer. For example, he consumes about two-thirds 
of the amount of meat consumed by the middle peasant, 
and about half the amount consumed by the big peasant. 
These figures prove once again the uselessness of sweeping 
conclusions and the erroneousness of all assessments of in- 
come that ignore differences in living standards. If, for 
instance, we take only the two last columns of our table 
(to avoid complicated calculations in translating food prod- 
ucts into money terms), we shall see that the "net profit", 
not only of the small peasant, but also of the middle peas- 
ant, is a pure fiction, which only pure bourgeois like Hecht 
and Klawki, or pure Voroshilovs like our Critics, can take 
seriously. Indeed, if we assume that the small peasant spends 
as much money on food as the middle peasant does, his 
expenditure would be increased by one hundred marks, and 
we would get an enormous deficit. If the middle peasant 
spent as much as the big peasant, his expenditure would be 
increased by 220 marks, and unless he "stinted himself" 
in food he, too, would sustain a deficit.* Does not the 
reduced consumption of the small peasant, following self- 
evidently from the inferior feeding of his cattle and the 
inadequate restoration (often the complete exhaustion) of 
the productivity of the soil, entirely confirm the truth of 
Marx's words, at which the modern Critics merely shrug 
their shoulders in lofty contempt: "An infinite fragmentation 

* Mr. Chernov "objects": Does not the big farmer stint his day- 
labourer still more in food and other expenses? (Russkoye Bogatstvo, 
1900, No. 8, p. 212). This objection repeats the old Krivenko-Voron- 
tsovtrick, if one may use such an expression, of foisting liberal-bour- 
geois arguments upon Marxists. The objection would be valid against 
those who say that large-scale production is superior, not only tech- 
nically, but because it improves (or at least makes tolerable) the con- 
dition of the labourers. Marxists do not say that. They merely ex- 
pose the false trick of painting the condition of the small farmer in 
roseate hues, either by sweeping statements about prosperity (Mr. 
Chernov on Hecht), or by estimates of "income" that leave out of ac- 
count reduced consumption. The bourgeoisie must needs paint things 
in roseate hues, must needs foster the illusion among the labourers 
that they can become "masters" and that small "masters" can obtain 
high incomes. It is the business of socialists to expose these falsehoods 
and to explain to the small peasants that for them too there is no sal- 
vation outside of the revolutionary movement of the proletariat. 



of means of production, and isolation of the producers 
themselves. Monstrous waste of human energy. Progressive 
deterioration of conditions of production and increased 
prices of means of production — an inevitable law of proprie- 
torship of parcels" (Das Kapital, III, 2, S. 342). 85 

In regard to the Baden Inquiry we must note still another 
distortion by Mr. Bulgakov (the Critics mutually supple- 
ment each other; while one distorts one aspect of the infor- 
mation adduced from a given source, a second distorts the 
other). Mr. Bulgakov frequently quotes from the Baden 
Inquiry. It would appear, therefore, that he is acquainted 
with it. Yet we find him writing the following: "The excep- 
tional and apparently fatal indebtedness of the peasant" — 
so states the Overture, II, 271 — "represents one of the most 
immutable dogmas in the mythology created in literature 
in relation to peasant farming.... Surveys at our disposal 
reveal considerable indebtedness only among the smallest, 
not yet firmly established holdings [Tagelohnerstellen]. 
Thus, Sprenger expresses the general impression obtained 
from the results of the extensive investigation conducted in 
Baden [to which reference is made in a footnote] in the 
following manner: '...Only the plots of the day-labourers 
and small peasant farmers are relatively speaking heavily 
mortgaged in a large number of the districts investigated; 
but even among these, in the majority of cases, the indebt- 
edness is not so great as to cause alarm...'" (272). A strange 
thing. On the one hand, there is reference to the Inquiry 
itself, and on the other, there is merely the quoted "general 
impression" of a certain Sprenger who has written about this 
Inquiry. But as ill-luck would have it, Sprenger's writing 
falls short of the truth (at least in the passage quoted by 
Mr. Bulgakov; we have not read Sprenger's book). First, 
the authors of the Inquiry assert that, in the majority of 
cases, it is precisely the indebtedness of the small peasant 
holdings which reaches alarming dimensions. Secondly, they 
assert that the position of the small peasants in this respect 
is not only worse than that of the middle and big peasants 
(which Sprenger noted) but also worse than that of the day- 

It must be observed in general that the authors of the Ba- 
den Inquiry established the extremely important fact that 


on the large farms the limits of permissible indebtedness 
(i.e., the limits to which the farmer may go without risking 
bankruptcy) are higher than on the small farms. After the 
data we have presented above on the farming results obtained 
by the big, middle, and small peasants respectively, this 
fact requires no further explanation. The authors of the 
Inquiry estimate the indebtedness permissible and safe 
(unbedenklich) for the large and medium farms at 40-70 
per cent of the land value, or an average of 55 per cent. 
In regard to the small farms (which they set as between 
four and seven hectares for crop cultivation, and between 
two and four hectares for viticulture and commercial crops), 
they consider that "the limits of indebtedness ... must not 
exceed 30 per cent of the value of the holding, if the regular 
payment of interest and of instalments on the principal is 
to be fully secured" (S. 66, B. IV). In the surveyed commu- 
nities (with the exception of those where Anerbenrecht* 
prevails, e.g., Unadingen and Neukirch), the percentage of 
indebtedness (in proportion to the value of the estate) 
steadily diminishes as we pass from the small to the large 
farms. In the community of Dittwar, for instance, the in- 
debtedness of farms up to one-fourth of a hectare equals 
180.65 per cent; from one to two hectares, 73.07 per cent; from 
two to five hectares, 45.73 per cent; from five to ten hectares, 
25.34 per cent; and from ten to twenty hectares, 3.02 per 
cent (ibid., S. 89-90). But the percentage of indebtedness 
does not tell us everything, and the authors of the Inquiry 
draw the following conclusion: 

"The above-given statistics, consequently, confirm the 
widespread opinion that those owners of peasant holdings 
who are on the border-line [in the middle] between the day- 
labourers and the middle peasants [in the rural districts 
the farmers of this category are usually called the "middle es- 
tate" — Mittelstand] are frequently in a worse position than 
those in the groups above or below [sic\] in the size of their 
holdings; for, although they are able to cope with moderate 
indebtedness, if it is kept at a certain and not very high 
level, they find it difficult to meet their obligations, being 

* Right of inheritance, by which the property of a peasant 
household passes undivided to a single heir. — Ed. 



unable to obtain regular collateral employment (as day- 
labourers, etc.), by which means to increase their income...." 
Day-labourers, "insofar as they have some regular collateral 
employment, are frequently in a much better position ma- 
terially than those belonging to the 'middle estate', for, 
as computations in numerous cases have shown, collateral 
employment produces at times such a high net (i.e., money) 
income as to enable them to repay even large debts" (loc. 
cit. , 67).* Finally, the authors reiterate that the indebted- 
ness of the small peasant farms in relation to the permissible 
level is "sometimes unsafe"; hence, "in purchasing land, 
particular business-like caution must be exercised ... pri- 
marily by the small peasant population and by the day- 
labourers, closely related to it" (98). 

This, then, is the bourgeois counsellor to the small peas- 
ant! On the one hand, he fosters in the proletarians and 
semi-proletarians the hope that they will be able to pur- 
chase land, "if not in the first, then in the second genera- 
tion", and by diligence and abstemiousness obtain from it 
an enormous percentage of "net income"; on the other hand, 
he advises especially the poor peasants to exercise "partic- 
ular caution" in purchasing land if they have no "regular 
employment", that is to say, when the capitalists have no 
need for settled workers. And yet there are "critical" simple- 
tons who accept these selfish lies and threadbare banalities as 
the findings of the most up-to-date science! 

One would think that the detailed data we have present- 
ed on the big, middle, and small peasants would suffice 
to make even Mr. V. Chernov understand the meaning of 
the term "petty bourgeois" as applied to the peasant, a term 
that seems to inspire him with such horror. Capitalist 
evolution has not only introduced similarity in the general 
economic system of West-European countries, but it has 
brought Russia also closer to the West, so that the main 
features of peasant farming in Germany are similar to those 

* The authors of the Inquiry rightly say: The small peasant 
sells relatively little for cash, but he stands particularly in need of 
money, and because of his lack of capital, every cattle disease, every 
hailstorm, etc., hits him particularly hard. 


in Russia. However, in Russia the process of differentia- 
tion among the peasantry, abundantly confirmed in Rus- 
sian Marxist literature, is in an initial stage; it has not yet 
assumed anything like a finished form, it has not yet given 
rise, for example, to the immediately noticeable, distinctive 
type of big peasant (Grossbauer). In Russia the mass expro- 
priation and extinction of an enormous section of the peas- 
antry still greatly overshadow the "first steps" of our peas- 
ant bourgeoisie. In the West, however, this process, which 
started even before the abolition of serfdom (cf. Kautsky, 
Agrarfrage, S. 27), long ago caused the obliteration of the 
social-estate distinction between peasant and "privately- 
owned" (as we call it) farming, on the one hand, and the 
formation of a class of agricultural wage-workers, which has 
already acquired fairly definite features, on the other.* It 
would be a grave error to assume, however, that this process 
came to a stop after more or less definite new types of rural 
population had emerged. On the contrary, it goes on contin- 
uously, now rapidly, now slowly, of course, depending on 
the numerous and varying circumstances, and assumes most 
diverse forms according to the varying agronomic conditions, 
etc. The proletarisation of the peasantry continues, as we 
shall prove below by the mass of German statistics; besides 
which, it is evident from the cited data on the small peas- 
antry. The increasing flight, not only of agricultural labour- 
ers, but of peasants, from the country to the towns is in 
itself striking evidence of this growing proletarisation. But 
the peasant's flight to the town is necessarily preceded 
by his ruin; and the ruin is preceded by a desperate struggle 
for economic independence. The data on the extent of the 
employment of hired labour, the amount of "net income", 
and the level of consumption of the various types of peasant- 
ry, bring out this struggle in striking relief. The principal 
weapon in this fight is "iron diligence" and frugality — fru- 
gality according to the motto "We work, not so much for 
our mouths as for our pockets". The inevitable result of the 

* "The peasantry," writes Mr. Bulgakov, with reference to France 
in the nineteenth century, "split up into two sections, each sharply 
distinguished from the other, namely, the proletariat and the small 
proprietors" (II, 176). The author is mistaken, however, in believing 
that the "splitting up" ended with this — it is a ceaseless process. 



struggle is the rise of a minority of wealthy, prosperous 
farmers (an insignificant minority in most cases — and in 
every case when particularly favourable conditions are ab- 
sent, such as proximity to the capital, the construction of 
a railway, or the opening up of some new, remunerative 
branch of commercial agriculture, etc.) and the continuously 
increasing impoverishment of the majority, which steadily 
saps the strength of the peasants by chronic starvation and 
exhausting toil, and causes the quality of the land and cattle 
to deteriorate. The inevitable result of the struggle is the 
rise of a minority of capitalist farms based on wage-labour, 
and the increasing necessity for the majority to work at 
"side lines", i.e., their conversion into industrial and agri- 
cultural wage-workers. The data on wage-labour very clearly 
reveal the immanent tendency, inevitable under the present 
system of society, for all small producers to become small 

We quite understand why bourgeois economists, on the 
one hand, and opportunists of various shades, on the other, 
shun this aspect of the matter and why they cannot help do- 
ing so. The differentiation of the peasantry reveals to us the 
profoundest contradictions of capitalism in the very process 
of their inception and their further development. A complete 
evaluation of these contradictions inevitably leads to the 
recognition of the small peasantry's blind-alley and hopeless 
position (hopeless, outside the revolutionary struggle of 
the proletariat against the entire capitalist system). It 
is not surprising that these most profound and most undevel- 
oped contradictions are not mentioned; there is an attempt 
to evade the fact of the overwork and under-consumption 
of the small peasants, which can be denied only by uncon- 
scionable or ignorant people. The question of the hired labour 
employed by the peasant bourgeoisie and of wage-work of 
the rural poor is left in the shade. Thus, Mr. Bulgakov 
submitted an "essay on the theory of agrarian development", 
passing over both these questions in eloquent silence!* 

* Or contains no less eloquent evasions, such as: "...the numer- 
ous cases of combining industry with agriculture, when industrial 
wage-workers own small plots of land..." are "no more than a detail 
[?!] in the economic system. There are as yet [?] no grounds for re- 
garding this as a new manifestation of the industrialisation of agricul- 



"Peasant farming," he says, "may be defined as that form of 
farming in which the labour of the peasant's own family is 
exclusively, or almost exclusively employed. Very rarely do 
even peasant farms dispense altogether with outside labour, — 
the help of neighbours or casual hired labour — but this does 
not change [naturally!] the economic features of peasant 
farming" (I, 141). Hertz is somewhat more naive, and at 
the very beginning of his book he makes the following res- 
ervation: "Hereinafter, by small or peasant farms I shall 
always assume a form of farming in which the farmer, the 
members of his family, and not more than one or two workers 
are employed" (S. 6, Russian translation, p. 29). When 
they discuss the hiring of a "hand" our Kleinbiirger soon 
forget the very "peculiarities" of agriculture which they con- 
stantly make so much of with no regard for relevance. In 
agriculture, one or two labourers is by no means a small 
number, even if they work only in the summer. But the main 
thing is not whether this is a small or a large number; 
the main thing is that hired labourers are employed by the 

ture, or its loss of independent development; this phenomenon is much 
too insignificant in extent (in Germany, for instance, only 4.09 per 
cent of agricultural land is held by industrial wage-workers)" (sic\ — 
II, pp. 254-55). In the first place, the fact that an insignificant share 
of the land is held by hundreds of thousands of workers does not prove 
that this "phenomenon is insignificant in extent", it proves rather 
that capitalism degrades and proletarises the small farmer. Thus, 
the total number of farmers holding less than two hectares (although 
their number is enormous: 3,200,000 out of 5,500,000, or 58.2 per 
cent, almost three-fifths) own "only" 5.6 per cent of the total area of 
agricultural land. Will our clever Mr. Bulgakov draw the inference 
from this that the entire "phenomenon" of small landownership and small 
farming is a mere "detail" and "is much too insignificant in extent"?? 
Of the 5,500,000 farmers in Germany, 791,000, or 14.4 per cent, are 
industrial wage-workers; and the overwhelming majority of these 
own less than two hectares of land each, namely, 743,000, which rep- 
resents 22.9 per cent of the total number of farmers owning less than 
two hectares. Secondly, true to his usual practice, Mr. Bulgakov 
distorted the statistics he adduced. By an oversight he took from the 
page of the German Inquiry he quoted (Statistik des Deutschen Reichs, 
B. 112, S. 49 *) the figure of the area of land owned by independent 
trading farmers. The non-independent trading farmers (i.e., indus- 
trial wage-workers) hold only 1.84 per cent of the total area of agri- 
cultural land. 791,000 wage-workers own 1.84 per cent of the total 
area of land, while 25,000 landlords own 24 per cent. Truly a most 
insignificant "detail"! 



wealthier, more prosperous peasants, whose "progress" and 
"prosperity" our knights of philistinism are so fond of pre- 
senting as the prosperity of the mass of the population. 
And in order to put a better complexion on this distortion, 
these knights majestically declare: "The peasant is a working 
man no less than the proletarian" (Bulgakov, II, 288). And 
the author expresses satisfaction at the fact that "workers' 
parties are more and more losing the anti-peasant tinge char- 
acteristic of them hitherto" (characteristic of them hitherto!) 
(289). "Hitherto", you see, they "left out of account the fact 
that peasant property is not an instrument of exploitation, 
but a condition for the application of labour". That is how 
history is written! Frankly, we cannot refrain from saying: 
Distort, gentlemen, but have a sense of measure! And the 
same Mr. Bulgakov has written a two-volume "study" of 
800 pages chock-full of "quotations" (how correct they are 
we have repeatedly shown) from all sorts of inquiries, de- 
scriptions, monographs, etc. But not once, literally not once, 
has he attempted even to examine the relations between the 
peasants whose property is an instrument of exploitation and 
those peasants whose property is "simply" a condition for 
the application of labour. Not once has he presented systemat- 
ic statistics (which, as we have shown, were contained in the 
sources he cited) concerning the types of farms, the standard 
of living, etc., of the peasants who hire labour, of the peas- 
ants who neither hire labour nor hire themselves out as 
labourers, and of the peasants who hire themselves out as 
labourers. More than that. We have seen that to prove the 
"progress of peasant farming" (peasant farming in general^ he 
has given data on the Grossbauer and opinions that confirm 
the progress of some and the impoverishment and prole- 
tarisation of others. He even sees a general "social regenera- 
tion" (sic!) in the rise of "well-to-do peasant farms" (II, 138; 
for general conclusion, cf. p. 456), as if well-to-do peasant farm 
were not synonymous with bourgeois, entrepreneur-peasant 
farm. His one attempt to extricate himself from this tangle of 
contradictions is the following still more entangled argument: 
"The peasantry, of course, does not constitute a homogeneous 
mass; this has been shown above [probably in his argument 
about such a petty detail as the industrial wage-labour 
performed by farmers?]; a constant struggle is here in proc- 


ess between a differentiating trend and a levelling trend. 
But are these differences and even the antagonism of individ- 
ual interests greater than those between the various strata 
of the working class, between urban and rural workers, 
between skilled and unskilled labour, between trade un- 
ionists and non-trade unionists? It is only by completely 
ignoring these differences within the worker estate (which 
cause certain investigators to see the existence of a fifth 
estate in addition to the fourth) that a distinction can be 
drawn between the allegedly homogeneous working class 
and the heterogeneous peasantry" (288). What a remarkably 
profound analysis! Confounding trade differences with class 
differences; confounding differences in the way of life with 
the different positions of the various classes in the system 
of social production — what better illustration is needed of 
the complete absence of scientific principles in the fashion- 
able "criticism"* and of its practical tendency to obliterate, 
the very concept "class" and to eliminate the very idea of 
the class struggle. The agricultural labourer earns fifty 
kopeks a day; the enterprising peasant who employs day- 
labourers earns a ruble a day; the factory worker in the capital 
earns two rubles a day; the small provincial master earns one 
and a half rubles a day. Any more or less politically conscious 
worker would be able to say without difficulty to which class 
the representatives of these various "strata" belong, and in 
what direction the social activities of these various "strata" 

* Let us recall the fact that reference to the alleged homogeneity 
of the working class was a favourite argument of Ed. Bernstein and 
of all his adherents. And as regards "differentiation", it was Mr. Stru- 
ve who, in his Critical Remarks, profoundly observed: There is differ- 
entiation, but there is also levelling; for the objective student both 
these processes are of equal importance (in the same way as it made 
no difference to Shchedrin's objective historian whether Izyaslav 
defeated Yaroslav or vice versa). 86 There is a development of the mon- 
ey economy, but there are also reversions to natural economy. There 
is a development of large-scale factory production, but there is also 
a development of capitalist domestic industry (Bulgakov, II, 88: 
"Hausindustrie is nowhere near extinction in Germany"). An "objec- 
tive" scientist must carefully gather facts and note things, "on the 
one hand" and "on the other", and (like Goethe's Wagner) "pass from 
book to book, from folio to folio" without making the least attempt 
to obtain a consistent view and build up a general idea of the process 
as a whole. 



will tend. But for the representative of university science, 
or for the modern "Critic", this is such a profound wisdom that 
it is totally beyond assimilation, 



Having examined the detailed statistics of peasant farm- 
ing, which are particularly important for us, because 
peasant farming is the centre of gravity of the modern 
agrarian question, let us now pass to the general statistics 
of German agriculture and verify the conclusions drawn from 
them by the "Critics". Below, in brief, are the principal 
returns of the censuses of 1882 and of 1895: 

No. of 


area (1,000 

Relative numbers 


of farms 



or de- 












Under 2 hec- 
tares . . . 
2-5 hectares 
5-20 " 
20-100 " 

100 and over 









+ 174 
+ 35 
+ 72 
+ 1 
+ 0 

- 18 
+ 96 

- 38 
+ 45 

Totals . . . 











Three circumstances must be examined in connection 
with this picture of change interpreted differently by Marx- 
ists and by the "Critics": the increase in the number of the 
smallest farms; the increase in latifundia, i.e., farms of 
one thousand hectares and over, in our table placed in the 
row of over one hundred hectares; and, lastly, the increase 
in the number of middle-peasant farms (5-20 hectares), 
which is the most striking fact, and the one giving rise to 
the most heated controversy. 



The increase in the number of the smallest farms indicates 
an enormous increase in poverty and proletarisation; for 
the overwhelming majority of the owners of less than two 
hectares cannot obtain a livelihood from agriculture alone 
but must seek auxiliary employment, i.e., work for wages. 
Of course, there are exceptions: the cultivation of special 
crops, viticulture, market gardening, industrial crop cul- 
tivation, suburban farming generally, etc., render possible 
the existence of independent (at times even not small) 
farmers even on one and a half hectares. But out of a total 
of three million farms, these exceptions are quite insignif- 
icant. The fact that the mass of these small "farmers" 
(representing three-fifths of the total number) are wage- 
labourers is strikingly proved by the German statistics 
concerning the principal occupations of the farmers in the 
various categories. The following is a brief summary of those 

of farmers 

Farms according to principal occupation 
(per cent) 

Per cent 
of inde- 








Under 2 hectares 

2 to 5 

5 to 20 
20 to 100 
100 and over " 














We see, thus, that out of the total number of German 
farmers only 45%, i.e., fewer than half, are independent 
with farming as their main occupation. And even of these 
independent farmers one-fifth (20.1 %) have auxiliary occupa- 
tions. The principal occupation of 17.5% of the farmers is 
trading, industry, market gardening, and so forth (in these 
occupations they are "independent", i.e., occupy the posi- 
tion of masters and not of hired workers). Almost one-third 
(31.1 %) are hired workers ("not independent", employed in 
various branches of agriculture and industry). The principal 



occupation of 6.4% of the farmers is office employment 
(in military service, civil service, etc.), the liberal profes- 
sions, etc. Of the farmers with farms under two hectares, 
one half are hired workers; the "independent" farmers among 
these 3,200,000 "owners" represent a small minority, only 
17.4% of the total. Of this number, 17%, one-fourth 
(26.1 %), are engaged in auxiliary occupations, i.e., are hired 
workers, not in their principal occupations (like the above- 
mentioned 50.3%), but in their side-line occupations. Even 
among the farmers owning from 2-5 hectares, only a little 
more than half (546,000 out of 1,016,000) are independent 
farmers without auxiliary occupations. 

We see from this how amazingly untrue is the picture 
presented by Mr. Bulgakov when, asserting (erroneously, 
as we have shown) that the total number of persons actually 
engaged in agriculture has grown, he explains this by the 
"increase in the number of independent farms — as we already 
know, mainly middle-peasant farms, at the expense of the 
big farms" (II, 133). The fact that the number of middle- 
peasant farms has expanded most in proportion to the total 
number of farms (from 17.6% to 18%, i.e., a rise of 0.4%) 
does not in the least prove that the increase in the agricul- 
tural population is due principally to the growth in the num- 
ber of middle-peasant farms. On the question as to which 
category has contributed most to the general increase in 
the number of farms, we have direct data that leave no room 
for two opinions: the total number of farms has risen by 
282,000, of which the number of farms under two hectares 
increased by 174,000. Consequently, the larger agricultural 
population (if and insofar as it is larger at all) is to be ex- 
plained precisely by the increase in the number of non- 
independent farms (the bulk of the farmers with farms under 
two hectares not being independent). The rise is greatest in 
the small allotment farms, which indicates growing pro- 
letarisation. Even the increase (by 35,000) in the number 
of farms of 2-5 hectares cannot be wholly attributed to 
the expanded number of independent farms, for of those 
farmers only 546,000 out of the total of 1,016,000 are in- 
dependent, drawing no subsidiary earnings. 

Coming now to the large farms, we must note, first of all, 
the following characteristic fact (of utmost importance for 


the refutation of all apologists): the combination of agri- 
culture with other occupations has diverse and opposite 
significance for the various categories of farmers. Among 
the small farmers it signifies proletarisation and curtailed 
independence; for in this category agriculture is combined 
with occupations like those of hired labourers, small hand- 
icraftsmen, small traders, and so forth. Among the big 
farmers, it signifies either a rise in the political significance 
of landed proprietorship through the medium of government 
service, military service, etc., or the combination of agri- 
culture with forestry and agricultural industries. As we know, 
the latter phenomenon is one of the most characteristic 
symptoms of capitalist advance in agriculture. That is why 
the percentage of farmers who regard "independent" farming 
as their principal occupation (who are engaged in farming 
as masters and not as labourers) sharply increases with the 
increase in the size of the farms (17-72-90-96%), but drops 
to 93% in the category of farms of 100 hectares and over. 
In this group 4.2% of the farmers regard office employment 
(under the heading of "other occupations") as their principal 
occupation; 0.4% of the farmers regard "non-independent" 
work as their principal occupations (what is here discussed is 
not hired labourers but managers, inspectors, etc., cf. Sta- 
tistik des Deutschen Reichs, B. 112, S. 49 *). Similarly, we see 
that the percentage of independent farmers who engage 
in auxiliary occupations sharply diminishes with the 
increase in the size of the farms (26-25-15-9%), but 
greatly increases among the farmers possessing 100 hectares 
and over (23%). 

In regard to the number of large farms (100 hectares and 
over) and the area of land they occupy, the statistics given 
above indicate a diminution in their share in the total 
number of farms and the total area. The question arises: 
Does this imply that large-scale farming is being crowded 
out by small and middle-peasant farming, as Mr. Bulgakov 
hastens to assume? We think not; and by his angry thrusts 
at Kautsky on this point Mr. Bulgakov merely exposes his 
inability to refute Kautsky's opinion on the subject. In 
the first place, the diminution in the proportion of the large 
farms is extremely small (from 0.47% to 0.45%, i.e., two- 
hundredths of one per cent of the total number of farms, 



and from 24.43% to 24.088%, i.e., 35-hundredths of one per 
cent of the total area). It is a generally known fact that with 
the intensification of farming it is sometimes necessary to 
make a slight reduction in the area of the farm, and that 
the big farmers lease small lots of land remote from the centre 
of the estate in order to secure labourers. We have shown 
above that the author of the detailed description of the large- 
and small-scale farms in East Prussia openly admits the 
auxiliary role played by small in relation to big landown- 
ership, and that he strongly advises the settlement of 
labourers. Secondly, there can be no talk of the elimination 
of large-scale by small-scale farming, for the reason that data 
on the size of farms are not yet adequate for judging the 
scale of production. The fact that in this respect large- 
scale farming has made considerable progress is irrefutably 
proved by statistics on the use of machinery (see above), 
and on agricultural industries (to be examined in greater 
detail below, since Mr. Bulgakov gives an astonishingly 
incorrect interpretation of the German statistics on this 
subject). Thirdly, in the group of farms of 100 hectares and 
over a prominent place is occupied by latifundia, i.e., 
farms of 1,000 hectares and over. The number of these farms 
has increased proportionately more than the number of mid- 
dle-peasant farms, namely, from 515 to 572, or by 11%, 
whereas the number of middle-peasant farms has increased 
from 926,000 to 998,000, or by 7.8%. The area of latifundia 
has increased from 708,000 hectares to 802,000 hectares, or 
by 94,000 hectares. In 1882 latifundia occupied 2.22% of 
the total land under cultivation; by 1895 they occupied 
2.46%. On this point Mr. Bulgakov, in his work, supple- 
ments the groundless objections to Kautsky he made in 
Nachalo with the following even more groundless generali- 
sation: "An index of the decline of large-scale farming," 
he writes, "is ... the increase of latifundia, although the 
progress of agriculture and the growth of intensive farming 
should be accompanied by the splitting-up of farms" (II, 126). 
Mr. Bulgakov unconcernedly goes on to talk about the "lati- 
fundia [!] degeneration" of large-scale farming (II, 190, 
363). With what remarkable logic our "scholar" reasons: 
since the diminution in the size of farms at times, with the 
intensification of farming, implies an increase in production, 


therefore an increase in the number and in the area of lati- 
fundia should, in general, signify a decline! But since logic is 
so bad, why not turn for help to statistics? The source from 
which Mr. Bulgakov draws his information contains a mass 
of data on latifundia farming. We present here some of the 
figures: in 1895, 572 of the largest agricultural enterprises 
occupied an area of 1,159,674 hectares, of which 802,000 
hectares were given over to agriculture and 298,000 were 
covered by forests (a part of these latifundia proprietors 
were primarily timber merchants and not farmers). 
Livestock of all kinds is kept by 97.9% of these farmers, and 
draught animals by 97.7 % . Machines are used by 555 in this 
group, and, as we have seen, it is in this group that the 
maximum number of cases of the use of machines of various 
types occurs; steam ploughs are used by 81 farms, or 14% 
of the total number of latifundia farms; livestock is kept as 
follows: 148,678 head of cattle, 55,591 horses, 703,813 sheep, 
and 53,543 pigs. Sixteen of these farms are combined with 
sugar refineries, 228 with distilleries, 6 with breweries, 
16 with starch factories, and 64 with flour-mills. Inten- 
sification may be judged from the fact that 211 of these farms 
cultivate sugar-beet (26,000 hectares are devoted to this 
crop) and 302, potatoes for industrial purposes; 21 (with 
1,822 cows, or 87 cows per farm) sell milk to the cities, and 
204 belong to dairy co-operative societies (18,273 cows, 
or 89 per farm). A very strange "latifundia degeneration" 

We now pass to the middle-peasant farms (5-20 hectares). 
The proportion they represent of the total number of farms 
has increased from 17.6% to 18.0% (+0.4%), and of the 
total area, from 28.7% to 29.9% (+1.2%). Quite natu- 
rally, every "annihilator of Marxism" regards these figures 
as his trump card. Mr. Bulgakov draws from them the con- 
clusion that "large-scale farming is being crowded out by 
small-scale farming", that there is a "tendency towards de- 
centralisation", and so on and so forth. We have pointed 
out above that precisely with respect to the "peasantry" 
unclassified statistics are particularly unsuitable and can 
more than ever lead to error; it is precisely in this sphere that 
the processes of the formation of small enterprises and the 
"progress" of the peasant bourgeoisie are most likely to 



conceal the proletarisation and impoverishment of the ma- 
jority. In German agriculture as a whole we see an undoubted 
development of large-scale capitalist farming (the growth of 
latifundia, the increase in the use of machinery, and the de- 
velopment of agricultural industries), on the one hand; on 
the other, there is a still more undoubted growth of prole- 
tarisation and impoverishment (flight to the cities, expanded 
parcellisation of the land, growth in the number of small 
allotment holdings, increase in auxiliary hired labour, 
decline in the food consumption of the small peasants, etc.). 
Hence, it would be clearly improbable and impossible that 
these processes should not be current among the "peasantry". 
Moreover, the detailed statistics definitely indicate these 
processes and confirm the opinion that data on the size of 
farms alone are totally inadequate in this case. Hence, 
Kautsky rightly pointed out, on the basis of the general state 
of the capitalist development of German agriculture, the 
incorrectness of drawing from those statistics the con- 
clusion that small-scale production was gaining over large- 
scale production. 

We have, however, direct data abundantly proving that 
the increase in the number of "middle-peasant farms" indi- 
cates an increase in poverty and not in wealth and prosperity. 
We refer to the very data on draught animals which Mr. 
Bulgakov utilised so clumsily both in Nachalo and in his 
book. "If this required further proof," wrote Mr. Bulgakov 
with reference to his assertion that medium farming was pro- 
gressing and large-scale farming declining, "then to the indi- 
ces of the amount of labour-power we could add the indices 
of the number of draught animals. Here is an eloquent 

Number of farms 
using animals for Difference 
field work 

1882 1895 


r 2 

hectares . . 

. . 325,005 


— 18,665 




. . 733,957 


— 8,383 



20 " 

. . 894,696 


+ 30,407 



100 " 

. . 279,284 


— 4,064 



over " 

. . 24,845 


— 360 


. . 2,257,797 


— 1,065 

* We reproduce the table as given by Mr. Bulgakov, merely add- 
ing the totals. 


"The number of farms with draught animals declined 
among the large as well as the small farms, and increased 
only among the medium farms" (Nachalo, No. 1, p. 20). 

Mr. Bulgakov could be pardoned for having, in a hurriedly 
written magazine article, erred in arriving at a conclusion 
diametrically opposed to the one the statistics on draught 
animals logically lead to. But our "strict scientist" repeated 
this error in his "investigation" (Vol. II, p. 127, where, 
moreover, he used the figures +30,407 and — 360 as applying 
to the number of animals, whereas they apply to the number 
of farms using draught animals. But that, of course, is a 
minor point). 

We ask our "strict scientist", who talks so boldly of the 
"decline of large-scale farming" (II, 127): What is the signif- 
icance of the increase of 30,000 in the number of middle- 
peasant farms with draught animals when the total number 
of middle-peasant farms increased by 72,000 (II, 124)? Is it 
not clear from this that the percentage of middle-peasant 
farms with draught animals is declining? This being the 
case, should not Mr. Bulgakov have ascertained what per- 
centage of farms in the various categories kept draught 
animals in 1882 and in 1895, the more so, since the data are 
given on the very page, and in the very table from which 
he took his absolute figures (Statistik des Deutschen Reichs, 
B. 112, S. 31*)? 

The data are here given: 

Percentage of farms 

using draught Difference 

1882 1895 

Under 2 hectares 10.61 9.46 —1.15 

2-5 " 74.79 71.39 — 3.40 

5-20 " 96.56 92.62 — 3.94 

20-100 " 99.21 97.68 — 1.53 

100 and over " 99.42 97.70 — 1.72 

Average 42.79 40.60 — 2.19 

Thus, the farms with draught animals diminished on 
the average by over 2 per cent; but the reduction was above 
the average among the small- and middle-peasant farms, 
and below the average among the large farms.* Moreover, it 

* The smallest reduction is observed among the smallest farms, 
only a relatively insignificant proportion of which keeps draught 



must not be forgotten that "it is precisely on the large farms 
that animal power is frequently displaced by mechanical 
power in the form of machines of various kinds, including 
steam-driven machines (steam ploughs, etc.)" (Statistik 
des Deutschen Reichs, B. 112, S. 32*). Therefore, if in the 
group of large farms (of 100 hectares and over) the number 
with draught animals diminished by 360, and if at the same 
time the number with steam ploughs increased by 615 (710 
in 1882 and 1,325 in 1895), it is clear that, taken as a whole, 
large-scale farming has not lost, but has benefited thereby. 
Consequently, we come to the conclusion that the only group 
of German farmers who have undoubtedly improved their 
conditions of farming (with respect to the use of animals 
for field work, or the substitution of steam power for animals) 
are the big farmers, with farms of 100 hectares and over. In 
all the remaining groups the conditions of farming have de- 
teriorated; and they have deteriorated most in the group of 
middle-peasant farms, in which the percentage of farms using 
draught animals has diminished most. The difference in the 
percentage of large farms (of 100 hectares and over) and 
medium farms (of 5-20 hectares) with draught animals was 
formerly less than 3% (99.42 and 96.56); the difference is 
now more than 5% (97.70 and 92.62). 

This conclusion is still more strongly confirmed by the 
data on the types of draught animals used. The smaller the 
farm, the weaker the types: a relatively smaller number of 
oxen and horses and a larger number of cows, which are 
much weaker, are used for field work. The following data 
show the situation in this respect for the years 1882 and 

For one hundred farms using draught animals the data 

animal. We shall see further that it was precisely among those farms 
(and only among them) that the composition of the draught animals 
improved, i.e., a larger number of horses and oxen and a relatively 
smaller number of cows were being kept. As the authors of the Ger- 
man Inquiry (S. 32 *) have rightly remarked, the farmers on the small- 
est allotments keep draught animals, not only for tilling the land, 
but also for "auxiliary work for wages". Consequently, in discussing the 
question of draught animals it would be erroneous to take these small 
allotments into account, since they are placed under altogether ex- 
ceptional conditions. 


Cows only 

Cows, along with horses 
or oxen 





Under 2 hectares 

(JO. l*i 

OA • 1U 

1 RA 
— l.D^ 



- 1.26 

2-5 " . . 



+ 1.13 



+ 1.98 

5-20 " . . 



+ 1.81 



+ 5.04 

20-100 " . . 



+ 0.03 



+ 2.60 

100 and over " . . 



+ 0.03 



+ 1.15 

Average . . . 



+ 0.21 



+ 2.30 

We see a general deterioration in the kind of draught 
animals used (for the reason indicated, the small allotment 
farms are not taken into account), the greatest deterioration 
occurring in the group of middle-peasant farms. In that 
group, of the total number of farms possessing draught 
animals, the percentage of those compelled to use cows as 
well as other animals, and of those compelled to use cows 
only, increased most of all. At the present time, more than 
one-third of the middle-peasant farms with draught animals 
have to use cows for field work (which, of course, leads to 
poorer tilling and, consequently, to a drop in the crop yield, 
as well as to a lower milk yield), while more than one- 
fifth use only cows for field work. 

If we take the number of animals used for field work, we 
shall find in all groups (except the small allotment farms) 
an increase in the number of cows. The number of horses and 
oxen has changed as follows: 

Number of Horses and Oxen Used for Field Work (Thousands) 




Under 2 



+ 6.5 


, , 308.3 


— 6.0 


, 1,437.4 


— 6.9 


. . 1,168.5 


— 13.1 

100 and 

. . 650.5 


+ 44.7 

Totals. . . . 




With the exception of the small allotment farms, an in- 
crease in the number of draught animals proper is seen only 
among the big farmers. 

Consequently, the general conclusion to be drawn from 
the changes in farming conditions with regard to animal 
and mechanical power employed for field work, is as 



follows: improvement only among the big farmers; deterio- 
ration among the rest; the greatest deterioration among 
the middle-peasant farms. 

The statistics for 1895 enable us to divide the middle- 
peasant farm group into two subgroups: with 5 to 10 hectares 
and with 10 to 20 hectares respectively. As was to be expected, 
in the first subgroup (which has by far the greater number of 
farms), farming conditions insofar as they affect the use of 
draught animals are incomparably worse than in the second. 
Of the total of 606,000 owners of 5-10 hectares, 90.5% pos- 
sess draught animals (of the 393,000 with 10-20 hectares — 
95.8%), and of this number, 46.3% use cows for field work 
(17.9% in the 10-20 hectare group); the number using only 
cows amounts to 41.3% (4.2% in the 10-20 hectare group). 
It turns out that precisely the 5-10 hectare group, the one 
most poorly equipped with draught animals, shows the 
greatest increase from 1882 to 1895 both in the number of 
farms and in area. The relevant figures follow: 


Percentage of Total 
Total area 

Cultivated area 

1882 1895 


hectares 10.50 10.90 

hectares 7.06 7.07 

1882 1895 1882 1895 

-0.40 11.90 12.37 +0.47 12.26 13.02 +0.76 
•0.01 16.70 16.59 - 0.11 16.48 16.88 +0.40 

In the 10-20 hectare group the increase in the number 
of farms is quite insignificant. The proportion of the total 
area even diminished, while the proportion of the cultivated 
area increased to a much lesser extent than that of the farms 
in the 5-10 hectare group. Consequently, the increase in 
the middle-peasant farm group is accounted for mainly (and 
partly even exclusively) by the 5-10 hectare group, i.e., 
the very group in which farming conditions with regard to 
the use of draught animals are particularly bad. 

Thus, we see that the statistics irrefutably reveal the true 
significance of the notorious increase in the number of 
middle-peasant farms: it is not an increase in prosperity, 
but an increase in poverty; not the progress of small farming, 
but its degradation. If the conditions of farming have de- 
teriorated most among the middle-peasant farms, and if 


these farms have been obliged to resort most extensively 
to the use of cows for field work, then, on the basis of this 
aspect of farming alone (one of the most important aspects 
of farming as a whole), it is not only our right but our duty 
to draw the conclusions regarding all the other aspects of 
farming. If the number of horseless farms (to use a term fa- 
miliar to the Russian reader, and one quite applicable to 
the present case) has increased, if there is deterioration in the 
type of draught animals used, there cannot be the slightest 
doubt that the general maintenance of the animals and the 
treatment of the soil, as well as the food and the living con- 
ditions of the farmers, have likewise deteriorated; for in 
peasant farming, as all know, the harder the animals are 
worked and the worse they are fed, the harder the peasant 
works and the worse he is fed, and vice versa. The conclu- 
sions we drew above from Klawki's detailed study are fully 
confirmed by the mass data on all the small peasant farms in 



We have dealt in such detail with the data on draught 
animals because these are the only data (apart from those 
dealing with machinery, which we have earlier examined) 
that enable us to obtain an inside view, as it were, of agri- 
culture, of its equipment and organisation. All the other 
data — on the amount of land (which we have cited), and the 
number of livestock (to be cited below) — merely describe 
the external aspects of agriculture, equating things that are 
obviously unequal, since treatment of the soil and, conse- 
quently, its yield, and the quality and productivity of 
livestock are different in the different categories of farms. 
Although these differences are well known, they are usually 
forgotten in statistical compilations; the data on machines 
and draught animals alone enable us, at least to some ex- 
tent, to form a judgement of these differences and to decide 



who gains (on the whole) from them. If the large farms use, 
to a larger extent than the rest, particularly complex and 
costly machines, which alone are taken into account by sta- 
tistics, then it is obvious that the other types of agricultur- 
al implements, which statistics ignore (ploughs, harrows, 
waggons, etc.), are of a better quality, are used in larger 
numbers, and (because the farms are bigger) are more fully 
utilised on the large farms. The same applies to livestock. 
The small farmer must inevitably make up for the lack of 
these advantages by greater industry and frugality (he has 
no other weapons in his struggle for existence), and for this 
reason those qualities are not merely casual but always and 
inevitably distinguish the small farmer in capitalist society. 
The bourgeois economist (and the modern "Critic", who on 
this question, as on all others, drags along at the tail of the 
bourgeois economist) calls this the virtue of thrift, persever- 
ance, etc. (cf. Hecht and Bulgakov), ascribing it to the peas- 
ant as a merit. The socialist calls it overwork (Ueberarbeit) 
and under-consumption (Unterkonsumption) and holds capi- 
talism responsible for it; he tries to open the eyes of the peas- 
ant to the deception practised by those who deliver Manilov 
orations, picturing social degradation as a virtue and 
thereby striving to perpetuate it. 

We shall now deal with the data on the distribution of 
livestock among the various groups of German farmers in 
1882 and 1895. The following are the main summaries (in 
percentages of total): 


(In value) Cattle Pigs 

1882 1895 ± 1882 1895 ± 1882 1895 ± 

Under 2 hectares 9.3 9.4 +0.1 10.5 8.3 — 2.2 24.7 25.6 +0.9 

2-5 " 13.1 13.5 +0.4 16.9 16.4 —0.5 17.6 17.2 —0.4 

5-20 " 33.3 34.2 +0.9 35.7 36.5 +0.8 31.4 31.1 — 0.3 

20-100 " 29.5 28.8 — 0.7 27.0 27.3 +0.3 20.6 19.6 — 1.0 

100 and over " 14.8 14.1 — 0.7 9.9 11.5 +1.6 5.7 6.5 +0.8 

Totals 100 100 — 100 100 — 100 100 

Thus, the share of the total livestock owned by the large 
farms has diminished, whereas that of the middle-peasant 
farms has increased most. We speak of the total livestock, 
notwithstanding the fact that the statistics refer only to 
value, because the statisticians' assumption that the value 
of each animal is equal for all groups is obviously wrong. 


The data on value, which make it possible to add different 
kinds of livestock (the result could have been obtained by 
expressing all the livestock in terms of cattle; but this would 
have entailed fresh calculations, without however, alter- 
ing the conclusions materially), actually show the distri- 
bution of all livestock according to number and not accord- 
ing to real value. Since the livestock belonging to the big 
farmers is of a better quality and probably improves to 
a greater extent than that of the small farmers (to judge by 
the improvement in the implements), the figures considerably 
minimise the real superiority of large-scale farming. 

With regard to certain types of livestock, it must be said 
that the diminution of the share of the large farms is en- 
tirely due to the decline in commercial sheep farming: from 
1882 to 1895 the number of sheep diminished from 21,100,000 
to 12,600,000, i.e., by 8,500,000; of this total diminution, 
farms of 20 hectares and over accounted for 7,000,000. As 
is known, stock raising for the dairy-product and meat mar- 
kets is one of the developing branches of commercial live- 
stock farming in Germany. For this reason we took the data 
on cattle and pigs, finding that the greatest progress in these 
two branches of livestock farming has been made on the 
large farms (of 100 hectares and over): share in the 
total number of cattle and pigs has increased most. This 
fact stands out the more for the reason that the area of 
livestock farms is usually smaller than that of agricultur- 
al farms and one would thus expect a more rapid develop- 
ment, not of large, but of middle, capitalist farms. The gener- 
al conclusion to be drawn (in regard to the number, not the 
quality, of cattle) should be the following: the big farmers 
have lost most as a result of the sharp decline in commercial 
sheep farming, and this loss has not entirely, but only partly, 
been compensated by a greater increase (as compared with the 
small and medium farms) in the raising of cattle and pigs. 

In speaking of dairy farming, we cannot ignore the ex- 
tremely instructive and, as far as we know, unutilised ma- 
terial on this question furnished by German statistics. But 
this concerns the general question of combining agriculture 
with agricultural industries, and we are obliged to deal 
with it because of the amazing distortion of the facts of 
which Mr. Bulgakov is again guilty. As is known, the com- 



bination of agriculture with the industrial processing of 
farm produce is one of the most outstanding characteristics 
of the specifically capitalist progress in agriculture. Some 
time back, in Nachalo (No. 3, p. 32), Mr. Bulgakov declared: 
"In my opinion, Kautsky vastly exaggerates the signif- 
icance of this combination. If we take the statistics, we 
shall find that the amount of land connected with industry 
in this way is quite negligible." The argument is an extreme- 
ly weak one; for Mr. Bulgakov does not dare to deny the 
technically progressive character of this combination. And 
as for the most important question, as to whether large-scale 
or small-scale production is the vehicle of this progress, he 
simply evades it. Since, however, the statistics provide a 
very definite reply to this question, Mr. Bulgakov resorts 
in his book to — sit venia verbol* — cunning. He cites the per- 
centage of farms (of all farms in general and not according 
to groups!) that are combined with agricultural industry 
in one form or another, and remarks: "It must not be supposed 
that they are combined principally with large farms" (II, 
116). The very opposite is the case, most worthy professor: 
that is precisely what must be supposed; and the table you 
give (which does not show the percentage of farms combined 
with agricultural industries in relation to the total number 
of farms in each group) merely deceives the uninformed or 
inattentive reader. Below we give the combined data (to 
avoid filling our pages with figures) on the number of farms 
connected with sugar refining, distilling, starch making, 
brewing, and flour milling (consequently, the totals will 
show the number of cases in which agriculture is combined 
with agricultural industries), and we get the following picture: 

Total number 
of farms 

Number of cases of 
combination with ag- 
ricultural industries 

Per cent 

Under 2 hectares . 


11,364 0.01 

13,542 1.09 

25,879 2.03 

8,273 2.52 

4,006 15.72 

2 to 5 

5 to 20 
20 to 100 

100 and over " 



63,064 1.14 

Farms with 1000 hec- 
tares and over 




* Save the mark!— Ed. 


Thus, the percentage of farms in combination with agri- 
cultural industries is negligible in small-scale farming and 
reaches marked dimensions only in large-scale farming (and 
enormous dimensions on the latifundia, of which more 
than half enjoy the benefits of this combination). If this 
fact is compared with the above-cited data on the use of 
machines and draught animals, the reader will understand 
the pretentious nonsense of Mr. Bulgakov's aphorisms on 
the "illusion fostered by conservative" Marxists "that large- 
scale farming is the vehicle of economic progress and that 
small-scale farming is the vehicle of retrogression" (II, 260). 

"The great bulk (of sugar-beet and potatoes for distilling 
alcohol!) was produced on the small farms," continues 
Mr. Bulgakov. 

But the very opposite is the case: it was precisely on the 
large farms: 

a g. "so -g a « •sp 

=2 § ° S-S ^ =2a"» o g o 

=4-, 60 «,£5 8 m ? O <?„ g 

Od ^ 0 -2 ^ O d h D, ^fl ° 

. -5 =o « c= ^ « -u , -5 S C" co a a 

S« 3 U g S^^g. a a 

0-43-g g-3 a a -43 •"■3 g-3 a 

1^1 «£"SS | .a £ s^s 

Under 2 hectares . . . 10,781 0.33 3,781 1.0 565 0.01 

2-5 " ... 21,413 2.10 12,693 3.2 947 0.09 

5-20 " ... 47,145 4.72 48,213 12.1 3,023 0.30 

20-100 " ... 26,643 9.45 97,782 24.7 4,293 1.52 

100 and over " ... 7,262 28.98 233,820 59.0 5,195 20.72 

Totals .... 113,244 2.03 396,289 100.0 14,023 0.25 
1000 hectares 

and over 211 36.88 26,127 302 52.79 

Thus, we see again that the percentage of farms culti- 
vating sugar-beet and potatoes for industrial purposes is 
negligible in the small-farm group, considerable in the large- 
farm group, and very high on the latifundia. The great bulk 
of the beets (83.7 per cent, judging by the area under beet) is 
produced on the large farms.* 

* Mr. Bulgakov's sheer ... bad luck in his assertions on the pro- 
cessing of industrial crops is so strange that we involuntarily ask our- 
selves whether it may not be due to the fact that in citing the tables 
from the German Inquiry he failed to see that they do not show the 



Similarly, Mr. Bulgakov failed to ascertain the "share of 
large-scale farming" in dairy farming (II, 117); yet this 
branch of commercial livestock farming is one of those that 
are developing with particular rapidity over the whole of 
Europe, as well as being one of the characteristics of the 
progress of agriculture. The following figures show the num- 
ber of farms selling milk and dairy products to the towns: 

5er of 

Percentage o: 

ntage o: 
cms in 

ier of 


Der of 
per far: 



of fa 1 




of to 



Under 2 

hectares . . 

. . 8,998 







. . 11,049 







. . 15,344 







. . 5,676 






100 and 

over " . . 

. . 863 






Totals . . . 

. . 41,930 






1000 hectares and over 21 - 3.7 1,822 - 87.0 

Thus, here too, large-scale farming is in advance: the 
percentage of farmers engaged in the milk trade increases 
proportionately with the increase in the size of the farms, 
and it is highest on the latifundia ("latifundia degeneration"). 
For instance, the percentage of large farms (100 hectares and 
over) selling milk to the towns is more than twice that of 
the middle-peasant (5-20 hectare) farms (3.4 and 1.5 per 

The fact that the large farms (large in area) also engage 
in large-scale dairy farming is confirmed by the data on the 
number of cows per farm, viz., 36 per farm of 100 hectares 

percentage of farms combined with agricultural industries in rela- 
tion to the total number of farms in the given group. On the one hand, 
it is difficult to imagine that a "study" by a strict scientist could 
contain such a string of errors (accompanied by a string of smug con- 
clusions). On the other hand, the identity of Mr. Bulgakov's tables 
with those in the German Inquiry (S. 40* and 41*-) is beyond 

doubt Oh those "strict scientists"! 

* We have included this column so that the reader may form a 
clear idea of the methods employed by Mr. Bulgakov, who, for con- 
firmation of his conclusions, refers only to this one column (taken 
from the above Inquiry). 



and over, and even 87 on the latifundia. Generally speaking, 
the obviously capitalist farms (20 hectares and over) own 
41.5% of the total number of cows, whose milk is sold to 
the towns, although these proprietors represent an insignif- 
icant percentage of the total number of farmers (5.52%), 
and a very small percentage of the number of farmers selling 
milk to the towns (15.6%). The progress of capitalist farming 
and the capitalist concentration of this branch of commer- 
cial livestock farming are therefore an indubitable fact. 

But the concentration of dairy farming is by no means 
fully brought out by data on farms grouped according to 
area. It is clear a priori that there can and must be farms 
equal in area but unequal in regard to livestock in general, 
and to dairy cattle in particular. Let us, first, compare the 
distribution of the total number of cattle among the various 
groups of farms with the distribution of the total number of 
cows whose milk is sold to the towns. 

Percentage of 

cows whose 
all cattle milk is sold Difference 
to towns 

Under 2 hectares 8.3 11.6 +3.3 

2 to 5 " 16.4 14.0 —2.4 

5 to 20 " 36.5 32.8 — 3.7 

20 to 100 " 27.3 27.1 — 0.2 

100 and over " 11.5 14.5 +3.0 

Totals 100.0 100.0 

Thus, we see again that it is the middle-peasant farms 
which are the worst off; this group utilises the smallest 
share of its cattle for the urban milk trade (the most prof- 
itable branch of dairy farming). On the other hand, the large 
farms occupy a very favourable position and utilise a rela- 
tively large proportion of their cattle for the urban milk 
trade.* But the position of the smallest farms is most fa- 
vourable of all, for they utilise the largest proportion of 
their cattle for the urban milk trade. Consequently, in this 

* This difference is not to be explained by the fact that the pro- 
portion of oxen to the total number of cattle is unequal, for the per- 
centage of oxen (at all events those used for field work) is higher on 
the large than on the middle-peasant farms. 



group, special "milk" farms are developing on which agricul- 
ture is forced into the background, or even abandoned alto- 
gether (out of 8,998 farms in this group which sell milk to 
the towns, 471 have no arable land, and the farmers possess 
a total of 5,344 cows, or 11.3 cows per farm). We obtain an 
interesting picture of the concentration of dairy farming 
within one and the same group according to area of tilled 
land if, with the aid of the German statistics, we single out 
the farms with one and with two cows each: 

Farms Selling Dairy Products to the Towns 

Farms with three 

cows or more <S 

■ o 2° .Ss J=s e 

go go g % ? 5 m rt 'a o 

p—i o h o 9^ 9 ° ^ S -2 o 

CO £ CO g = = c„ OJ 

fa o fa -£ Zo Zo CJ=S Ho 

722 372 850 9,787 11.5 11,255 
3,302 2,552 1,200 5,367 4.5 13,773 

0 to 2 hectares 8,998 4,024 2,924 2,050 15,156 7.4 25,028 

2 to 5 " 11,049 1,862 4,497 4,690 19,419 4.3 30,275 

Among the farms with a negligible amount of agricultural 
land (0-0.5 hectares) we see an enormous concentration of 
dairy farming: fewer than one half of these farmers (850 
out of 1,944) concentrate in their hands almost nine-tenths 
of the total number of cows in this group (9,789 out of 
11,255), with an average of 11.5 cows per farm. These are 
by no means "small" farmers; they are farmers having a turn- 
over in all probability (especially those adjacent to big 
cities) of several thousand marks per annum, and it is doubt- 
ful whether they can manage without hired labour. The 
rapid growth of the towns causes a steady increase in the 
number of such "dairy farmers", and, of course, there will 
always be the Hechts, Davids, Hertzes, and Chernovs to 
console the mass of the small peasants crushed by poverty 
with the example of isolated cases of their fellow-farmers 
who have "got on in the world" by means of dairy farming, 
tobacco cultivation, and so forth. 

In the 0.5-2 hectare group of farms we see that fewer 
than one-fifth of the total number of farmers (1,200 out of 
7,054) concentrate in their hands over two-fifths of the total 
number of cows (5,367 out of 13,773); in the 2-5 hectare 


B B 

0 a 

Under 50 ares 1,944 

50 ares to 2 hectares . . 7,054 


group, fewer than one half of the farmers (4,690 out of 
11,049) concentrate in their hands more than three-fifths 
of the total number of cows (19,419 out of 30,275), and so 
on. Unfortunately, the German statistics do not enable us 
to classify the groups with a larger number of cows.* But 
even the data presented fully confirm the general conclusion 
that the concentration of capitalist agriculture is in reality 
much greater than the data on area alone would lead us to 
suppose. The latter combine in one group farms small in 
area and producing small quantities of grain with farms 
producing dairy products, meat, grapes, tobacco, vegetables, 
etc., on a large scale. Of course, all these branches occupy 
a far inferior place as compared with the production of grain, 
and certain general conclusions hold good also in regard to 
statistics relating to area. But, in the first place, certain 
special branches of commercial agriculture are growing with 

* To be more exact, the manner in which the German data are 
grouped does not enable us to do this; for the authors of the Inquiry 
had the data for each farm separately (on the basis of the replies list- 
ed in the questionnaires sent out to the farmers). In passing, we would 
state that this practice of gathering information from each farm 
separately adopted by German agricultural statistics is superior to 
the French method and apparently also to the English and other meth- 
ods. Such a system enables us to classify the various types of farms 
not only according to area but also according to scale of farming 
(dairy farming, for example), according to the extent of use of machin- 
ery, degree of development of agricultural industries, and so forth. 
But this system requires a more thorough classification of the statis- 
tical data. First, the farms must be classified, not only according 
to one single feature (extent of area), but according to several features 
(number of machines, livestock, area of land under special crops, 
and so forth). Secondly, combined classifications must be made, i.e., 
the division of each group, classified according to area, into subgroups 
according to numbers of livestock, etc. Russian Zemstvo statistics 
on peasant farming can and should serve as a model in this respect. 
While German government statistics are superior to Russian govern- 
ment statistics in their fullness and comprehensiveness, in their 
uniformity and exactness, and in the rapidity of their preparation 
and publication, our Zemstvo statistics are superior to the European 
partial inquiries and investigations because of the remarkable 
fullness and detailed analysis of certain particular data. Russian 
Zemstvo statistics have for a long time included surveys of individ- 
ual farms and presented various group tables and the combined 
tables we have mentioned. A close study of Russian Zemstvo statistics 
by Europeans would no doubt give a strong impetus to the progress 
of social statistics generally. 



particular rapidity in Europe, constituting a distinguishing 
feature of its capitalist evolution. Secondly, the circumstance 
referred to is frequently forgotten with reference to certain 
examples, or to certain districts, and this opens a wide 
field for petty-bourgeois apologetics, samples of which were 
presented by Hecht, David, Hertz, and Chernov. They re- 
ferred to tobacco growers, who, judged by the size of their 
farms, are echte und rechte Kleinbauern* but, if judged by the 
extent of their tobacco plantations, are by no means "small" 
farmers. Moreover, if we examine the data on tobacco grow- 
ing separately, we shall find capitalist concentration in 
this area also. For instance, the total number of tobacco 
growers in Germany in 1898 was estimated at 139,000, with 
a cultivation of 17,600 hectares of tobacco land. But of these 
139,000, some 88,000, or 63 per cent, together owned not more 
than 3,300 hectares, i.e., only one-fifth of the total area of 
land under tobacco. The other four-fifths were in the hands 
of 37% of the tobacco growers.** 

The same applies to grape growing. As a general rule, 
the area of the "average" vineyard, in Germany, for example, 
is very small: 0.36 hectares (344,850 growers and 126,109 
hectares of vineyards). But the vineyards are distributed 
as follows: 49% of the growers (with 20 or fewer ares of 
vineyards) have only 13% of the total area of vineyards; the 
"middle" growers (20-50 ares), representing 30% of the to- 
tal, hold 26% of the total area of vineyards, whereas the big 

* Genuine small peasants. — Ed. 
** Die deutsche Volkswirtschaft am Schlusse des 19. Jrhd. {Ger- 
man National Economy at the End of the Nineteenth Century. — Ed.), 
Berlin, 1900, S. 60. This is a very rough computation based on the 
fiscal returns. For Russia, we have the following data on the distri- 
bution of tobacco growing in three uyezds of Poltava Gubernia: of 
the total of 25,089 peasant farms growing tobacco, 3,015 farms (less 
than one-eighth) have 74,565 dessiatines under grain out of a total 
of 146,774 dessiatines, or more than one half, and 3,239 dessiatines 
under tobacco out of a total of 6,844 dessiatines, or nearly one half. 
By grouping these farms according to the tobacco area we get the fol- 
lowing: 324 farms (out of 25,089) have two or more dessiatines, com- 
prising a total of 2,360 out of 6,844 dessiatines. These belong to the 
big capitalist tobacco planters, notorious for their outrageous exploi- 
tation of the workers. Only 2,773 farms (a little more than one-tenth) 
had over half a dessiatine each under tobacco, comprising altogeth- 
er 4,145 out of 6,844 dessiatines under tobacco. See A Review of To- 
bacco Growing in Russia, Issues II and III, St. Petersburg, 1894. 


growers (half a hectare and over), representing 20% of the 
total, hold 61 % of the total area of vineyards, or more than 
three-fifths.* Still more concentrated is market gardening 
(Kunst- und Handelsgdrtnerei), which is rapidly developing 
in all capitalist countries in direct dependence on the growth 
of large cities, big railroad stations, industrial settlements, 
etc. The number of market gardening enterprises in Germany 
in 1895 is estimated at 32,540, with an area of 23,570 hec- 
tares, or an average of less than one hectare each. But more 
than half of this area (51.39%) is concentrated in the hands 
of 1,932 proprietors, or 5.94% of all the market gardeners. 
The size of the market gardens and the area of the rest of 
the land the big farmers utilise for agriculture can be judged 
from the following figures: 1,441 market gardeners have 
vegetable gardens ranging from two to five hectares, making 
an average of 2.76 hectares per vegetable farm, and total land 
amounting to an average of 109.6 hectares per farm; 491 
farmers have vegetable gardens of five hectares and over, 
making an average of 16.54 hectares per farm, and total land 
amounting to an average of 134.7 hectares per farm. 

Let us return to dairy farming, the data on which help 
us to judge the significance of co-operative societies, which 
Hertz regards as a panacea for the evils of capitalism. Hertz 
is of the opinion that "the principal task of socialism" is 
to support these co-operative societies (op. cit., S. 21, Rus- 
sian translation, p. 62; S. 89, Russian translation, p. 214), 
and Mr. Chernov, who, as might be expected, bruises his 
forehead in the act of ardent prostration before the new gods, 
has invented a theory of the "non-capitalist evolution of 
agriculture" with the aid of co-operative societies. We 
shall have a word or two to say on the theoretical significance 
of this sort of remarkable discovery. For the moment, we 
shall note that the worshippers of co-operative societies 

* It is of interest to note that in France, where vine growing is 
incomparably more developed than in Germany (1,800,500 hectares), 
the concentration of vineyards is also more considerable. However, 
we have only the general statistics on area to enable us to form a 
judgement; for in France data are not gathered on individual farms, 
and the actual number of growers is unknown. In Germany 12.83% 
of the total vineyards belong to growers owning ten or more hectares 
of land. In France, however, 57.02% of the vineyards belong to this 
category of growers. 



are always eager to talk of what it is "possible" to achieve 
by co-operative societies (cf. the instance given above). 
We, however, prefer to show what is actually achieved by 
the aid of co-operative societies under the present capitalist 
system. On the occasion of the census of enterprises and oc- 
cupations in Germany in 1895 a register was made of all farms 
participating in co-operatives for the sale of dairy products 
(Molkereigenossenschaften und Sammelmolkereien), as well 
as of the number of cows from which each farmer obtained 
milk and milk products for sale. As far as we know, those 
are perhaps the only mass data that determine with precision, 
not only the extent to which farmers of various categories 
participate in co-operative societies, but, what is particu- 
larly important, the economic, so to speak, extent of this 
participation, viz., the size of the particular branch of 
each farm in the co-operative society (the number of cows 
providing products for sale organised by co-operative 
societies). We cite the figures, divided into the five princip- 
al groups according to area of farms: 

Farms Participating in Co-operative Societies for the Sale of 
Dairy Products 

Under 2 hectares 

100 and over " 

Totals . . . 148,082 2.7 100 1,082,946 100 7.3 
1000 hectares and 

over 204 35.6 - 18.273 - 89.0 

Thus, only an insignificant minority (3-5%) of the small 
farmers participate in co-operative societies — in all proba- 
bility an even smaller percentage than that of capitalist 
farms in the lower groups. On the other hand, the percentage 

* Mr. Bulgakov stated: "The share of large-scale farming will 
be seen from the following figures" (II, 117) and he cited only these 
figures, which do not reveal "the share of large-scale farming, but 
(unless compared with other data) rather serve to obscure it. 

B g 

25 to 


60 . O 
03 0 bo 

Pi +^ 

oj co as 


o rt 

bo co 




=41 3 


u £ 
0 o 

rC CO 

a s a 

Z O =41 




bp S 

-S 3 co 

a a & 

Ph +5 O 


Ml 72 - 02 

5 » « 



of the large, obviously capitalist, farms which participate 
in co-operative societies is from three to seven times greater 
than that of even the middle-peasant farms. The percentage 
of the latifundia participating in co-operatives is largest of 
all. We can now form an idea of the boundless naivete of the 
Austrian Voroshilov, Hertz, who, in retorting to Kautsky, 
states that the "German Agricultural Co-operative Whole- 
sale Society [Bezugsvereinigung], with which the largest co- 
operative societies are affiliated, represents 1,050,000 farm- 
ers" (S. 112, Russian translation, p. 267, Hertz' italics) 
from which he concludes that this means that not only big 
farmers (holding more than 20 hectares, who number 306,000) 
participate in these co-operatives, but peasants too! Hertz 
had only to ponder a little over his own assumption (that 
all the large farms participate in co-operatives), in order to 
realise that if all big farmers are members of co-operative 
societies, this implies that of the rest a smaller percentage 
participate in them, which means that Kautsky's conclusion 
concerning the superiority of large-scale over small-scale 
farming even with respect to co-operative organisation is 
fully confirmed. 

But still more interesting are the data on the number of 
cows furnishing the products, the sale of which is organised 
by the co-operatives. The overwhelming majority of these 
cows, almost three-fourths (72%), belong to big farmers 
engaged in capitalist dairy farming and owning ten, forty, 
and (on the latifundia) even eighty cows per farm. And now 
let us listen to Hertz. "We assert that co-operative societies 
bring most benefit to the small and smallest farmers..." 
(op. cit., S. 112, Russian translation, p. 269, Hertz' ital- 
ics). The Voroshilovs are alike everywhere: be it in Russia 
or in Austria. When the Voroshilovs beat their breasts and 
exclaim vehemently, "We assert", we can be quite sure that 
they are asserting that which is not. 

To conclude our review of German agrarian statistics, 
let us examine briefly the general situation in regard to the 
distribution of the agricultural population according to its 
position in the economy. Of course, we take agriculture 
proper (A 1, and not A 1 to 6, according to the German no- 
menclature, i.e., we do not include among the agricultur- 
ists fishermen, lumbermen, and hunters); we then take the 



data on persons for whom agriculture is the principal occu- 
pation. German statistics divide this population into three 
main groups: (a) independent (viz., farmer owners, tenant 
farmers, etc.), (b) non-manual employees (managers, fore- 
men, supervisors, office clerks, etc.), and (c) labourers. The 
last-named group is split up into the following four subgroups: 
(c 1 ) "members of families employed on a farm belonging to 
the head of the family — father, brother, etc.," in other 
words, labourers that are members of the family, as distinct 
from hired labourers, to which category all the other sub- 
groups of group c belong. Clearly, therefore, in order to study 
the social composition of the population (and its capitalist 
evolution), the labourers that are members of the family 
must not be grouped with the hired labourers, as is usually 
done, but with the farmers in group a; for they are in fact 
the farmers' partners, enjoying right of inheritance, etc. 
Other subgroups are: (c 2 ) agricultural labourers, men and 
women (Knechte und Magde), and (c 3 ) "agricultural day- 
labourers and other labourers (shepherds, herdsmen) owning 
or renting land". Consequently, the last-named subgroup con- 
sists of persons who are at the same time farmers and wage- 
labourers, i.e., an intermediate and transitional group which 
should be placed in a special category. Finally, there is the 
subgroup (c 4 ) "ditto — neither owning nor renting land". 
In this way, we obtain three main groups: I. Farmers — 
owners of land and the members of their families. II. Farm- 
ers — owners of land and at the same time wage-labourers. 
III. Wage-workers not owning land (non-manual employees, 
labourers, and day-labourers). The following table illus- 
trates the manner in which the rural population* of Ger- 

* We speak only of the "active" population (as the French term 
it; in German, erwerbsthatige), i.e., those actually engaged in agri- 
culture, not including domestic servants and those members of fami- 
lies who are not regularly and permanently engaged in agricultural 
work. Russian social statistics are so undeveloped that we still 
find lacking a special term like "active", "erwerbsthatig" , "occupied" . 
Yanson, in his analysis of the data on the occupations of the popula- 
tion of St. Petersburg (St. Petersburg According to the Census of 1890), 
employs the term "independent"; but this is not a suitable term, for 
it usually implies masters, and, consequently, division according 
to participation or non-participation in industrial activity (in the 
broad sense of the term) is confused with division according to the 
position occupied in industry (individual self-employed workman). 


many was distributed among these groups in the years 1882 
and 1895: 

Active (self-employed) population engaged 
in agriculture as the main occupation 



(c 1 ) Members of farmers' fami- 



+ 269 

— 36 




+ 233 


(c 2 ) Labourers with allotments 


I + 11 



— 483 

— 250 


(b) Non-manual employees .... 
(c 4 ) Labourers without allotments . 



+ 30 
+ 130 
+ 71 




+ 231 

+ 7.7% 

Totals . . . 



— 19 

— 0.2% 

Thus, the active population has diminished, although 
only slightly. Among this population we see a diminution 
in the landowning section (I+II) and an increase in the land- 
less section (III). This clearly shows that the expropriation 
of the rural population is progressing, and that it is precisely 
the small landowners who are being expropriated; for we 
know by now that the wage-labourers with small plots of 
land belong to the group of smallest farmers. Furthermore, 
of the persons owning land, the number of farmer-labourers 
is diminishing, while the number of farmers is increasing. 
We see, therefore, the disappearance of middle groups and the 
growth of the extreme groups: the intermediary group is 
disappearing; capitalist contradictions are becoming more 
acute. Of the wage-labourers there is an increase in the num- 
ber of those entirely expropriated, while the number 
owning land is diminishing. Of the farmers there is an 
increase in the number directly owning enterprises, while 

The term "productive population" could be used, but even that would 
be inexact, for the military, rentier, and similar classes are not at all 
"productive". Perhaps the most suitable term would be "self-em- 
ployed" population, viz., those engaged in some "trade" or other occu- 
pation (= producing an income) as distinct from those who live at 
the expense of those "self-employed". 



the number employed in the enterprises of heads of families 
is diminishing. (In all probability the latter circumstance is 
due to the fact that in the majority of cases working members 
of peasant families receive no pay whatever from the head 
of the family and for that reason are particularly prone to 
migrate to the cities.) 

If we take the data on the population for whom agricul- 
ture is an auxiliary occupation, we shall see that this (active 
or self-employed) population increased from 3,144,000 to 
3,578,000, i.e., by 434,000. This increase is almost entirely 
due to the growth in the number of working members of 
farmers' families, which expanded by 397,000 (from 664,000 
to 1,061,000). The number of farmers increased by 40,000 
(from 2,120,000 to 2,160,000); the number of labourers owning 
land increased by 51,000 (from 9,000 to 60,000); while 
the number of landless labourers diminished by 54,000 
(from 351,000 to 297,000). This enormous increase from 
664,000 to 1,061,000, or 59.8% in the course of 13 years, 
is further evidence of the growth of proletarisation — the 
growth of the number of peasants, members of peasants' 
families, who have come to regard agriculture merely as an 
auxiliary occupation. We know that in those cases the prin- 
cipal occupation is working for wages (next in importance 
being petty trading, handicraft, etc.). If we combine the 
numbers of all working members of peasant families — those 
for whom agriculture is the principal occupation and those 
for whom it is merely an auxiliary occupation — we shall 
get the following: 1882—2,559,000; 1895—2,960,000. This 
increase may easily provide occasion for erroneous inter- 
pretations and apologetic conclusions, especially if it is 
compared with the number of wage-labourers, which, on the 
whole, is diminishing. Actually, the general increase is 
obtained by the diminution in the number of working mem- 
bers of peasant families for whom agriculture is the princi- 
pal occupation and by the increase in the number for whom 
it is an auxiliary occupation; the latter amounted in 1882 
to only 21.7% of the total number of working members of 
peasant families, whereas in 1895 they amounted to 35.8%. 
Thus, the statistics covering the entire agricultural popula- 
tion distinctly reveal to us the two processes of proletarisa- 
tion to which orthodox Marxism has always pointed, and 


which opportunist critics have always tried to obscure by 
stereotyped phrases. These processes are: on the one hand, 
the growing separation of the peasantry from the land, the 
expropriation of the rural population, which either moves 
to the towns or is turned from landowning labourers into 
landless labourers; on the other hand, the development of 
"auxiliary employment" among the peasantry, i.e., the com- 
bination of agriculture with industry, which marks the first 
stage of proletarisation and always leads to increased pov- 
erty (longer working day, malnutrition, etc.). Regarded 
only from the external aspect, these two processes, to a cer- 
tain extent, even tend in opposite directions: an increase 
in the number of landless labourers and an increase in the 
number of working members of peasant landowning fami- 
lies. For this reason, to confound the two processes, or to 
ignore either of them, may easily lead to the crudest blun- 
ders, numerous examples of which are scattered through 
Bulgakov's work. 87 Finally, the occupational statistics 
reveal to us a remarkable increase in the number of non- 
manual employees,* from 47,000 to 77,000, or 63.8%. 
Simultaneously with the growth of proletarisation, there is 
a growth of large-scale capitalist production, which requires 
non-manual employees to a degree rising in proportion to the 
increase in the use of machinery and the development of 
agricultural industries. 

Thus, notwithstanding his vaunted "details", Mr. Bul- 
gakov proved unable to grasp the German data. In the occu- 
pational statistics he merely saw an increase in the number 
of landless labourers and a diminution in the number of 
landowning labourers, which he took to be an index of the 
"changes that have taken place in the organisation of ag- 
ricultural labour" (II, 106). But these changes in the organ- 
isation of labour in German agriculture as a whole have 
remained for him a fortuitous and inexplicable fact, in no 
way connected with the general structure and evolution of 
agricultural capitalism. In reality, it is only one of the aspects 
of the process of capitalist development. Mr. Bulgakov's 

* In regard to this fact Mr. Bulgakov delivered himself in Na- 
chalo of the banal joke, "The increase in the number of officers in a 
dwindling army". A vulgarised view of the organisation of labour 
in large-scale production! 



opinion notwithstanding, the technical progress of German 
agriculture is first and foremost the progress of large-scale 
production, as has been irrefutably proved by statistics 
relating to the use of machinery, the percentage of enter- 
prises using draught animals and the type used, the develop- 
ment of industries connected with agriculture, the growth of 
dairy farming, and so forth. Inseverably connected with 
the progress of large-scale production are the growth of the 
proletarisation and expropriation of the rural population; 
the expanding number of small allotment farms and of peas- 
ants whose principal source of livelihood is auxiliary oc- 
cupations; the increased poverty among the middle-peasant 
population, whose farming conditions have deteriorated 
most (the largest increase in the percentage of horseless 
farms and in the percentage of farms using cows for field 
work), and, consequently, whose general living conditions 
and quality of land cultivation have undergone greatest 


x 1V1 1 V I 1 v I v \^_^ 1 / \ 1 J 
*™i r I 1 T™\ ~W T ~T r I 1 t "X. T 


SEPTEMBER 21-22 (OCTOBER 4-5), 1901 






Let us begin with the point on which the success of the 
conference depends. 

As a representative of Iskra I consider it necessary to touch 
on the history of our attitude to the other organisations. 
Iskra has been completely independent from its very incep- 
tion, recognising only ideological connections with Russian 
Social-Democracy and functioning on instructions from many 
comrades in Russia. In its first issue Iskra declared that it 
would not deal with the organisational differences that had 
arisen in the Union of Russian Social-Democrats Abroad 89 
and attached the greatest importance to its position on mat- 
ters of principle.* 

Some members of the Union Abroad proposed that we hold 
a conference to come to an agreement with the organisations 
abroad. We understood the proposal to mean that a group 
in the Union was in agreement with our principles, which 
made it possible that the Union would also accept them. 
The revolutionary organisation Sotsial-Demokrat , 90 voiced 
agreement, notwithstanding considerable organisational 
differences, as well as differences on principle. The Union, 
unfortunately, refused to negotiate. When a new group of 
initiators 91 appeared, the Union consented to the negotia- 
tions. Since the Union had no distinct physiognomy and 
since a new trend towards revolutionary Marxism had man- 
ifested itself within it it was to be hoped that an agreement 

See present edition, Vol. 4, pp. 378-79.— Ed. 



on principle would be possible. Iskra and Sotsial-Demokrat 
again consented, and the Geneva Conference was held. At 
the beginning of our session Comrade Kruglov read the con- 
ference resolution without any comments. No one from the 
Union took the floor in opposition. 

We affirm that in its tenth issue, Rabocheye Dyelo made 
a decisive break with the traditions of revolutionary Marx- 
ism and opposed the agreement on principles elaborated 
at the Geneva Conference, with whose tendencies the Union 
is apparently in agreement. 

In view of this, my criticism will be directed against the 
editors of Rabocheye Dyelo, and not against the entire Union. 

Let us compare the Geneva resolution with the articles 
in issue No. 10 of Rabocheye Dyelo. 

The Geneva resolution astonishes one by its amazing de- 
tail and its stressing of points that are considered generally 

Point 1 of the agreement on principles reads: "Accepting 
the basic principles of scientific socialism and acting in 
solidarity with international revolutionary Social-De- 
mocracy, we reject all attempts to introduce opportunism 
into the class struggle of the proletariat — attempts that 
find expression in so-called Economism, Bernsteinism, 
Millerandism, 92 etc." Here there is an obvious allusion to 
something; obviously a struggle was taking place between 
opportunism and revolutionary Marxism. Whatever the con- 
tents of issue No. 10 of Rabocheye Dyelo may be, it cannot, 
in any event, destroy the historical fact that the Geneva 
Conference took place and that the resolution it adopted 
can serve as a basis for unification. In its third point, for 
instance, the Geneva resolution recognises that Social- 
Democracy should assume leadership in the struggle for 
democracy. Apparently there were previous differences of 
opinion on this point, too. In its effort to keep well away 
from opportunism, the resolution descends almost to the 
ridiculous. (See Point "e", in Paragraph 5.) It follows, 
therefore, that there were differences even on such elemen- 
tary questions. Now let us compare that resolution with the 
articles in Rabocheye Dyelo (No. 10). Unfortunately I have 
had the articles at my disposal for three days only, not 
more than enough for a cursory examination. 



These articles give a detailed explanation of the difference 
in our views; there are some just remarks addressed to 
Zarya and Iskra which we shall turn to account. But that is 
not what concerns us at the moment; we are concerned with 
the principles underlying the articles. The position on prin- 
ciple adopted by Rabocheye Dyelo (No. 10) contradicts the 
position adopted by the Union delegates at the Geneva 
Conference. It is impossible to reconcile these two positions. 
It is necessary to reveal the differences contained in them 
in order to know on what basis the Union takes its stand, 
in order to know whether it is possible to effect ideological 
unity, without which organisational unity would be mean- 
ingless; we have not sought and could not seek such unity. 
On pages 32 and 33 of issue No. 10 of Rabocheye Dyelo the 
author of the article demurs at the contraposing of Moun- 
tain and Gironde in international Social-Democracy. 93 
Look but at the Geneva Conference — does it not represent 
a clash between the Mountain and the Gironde? Does not 
Iskra represent the Mountain? Did not Iskra in its very first 
editorial declare itself against organisational unity prior 
to the demarcation of ideological boundaries? In Rabocheye 
Dyelo, No. 10, it is stated that even the most rabid Bern- 
steinians take a stand on the basis of class interests. The 
resolution makes special mention of Bernsteinism, to re- 
fute which the delegates at the conference devoted consid- 
erable effort; and now, in the articles of Rabocheye Dyelo 
(No. 10), the same old fare is rehashed. What is this, a chal- 
lenge or a sneer? To what end the effort we put forth? People 
are simply laughing at our pains to elaborate a theoretical 
basis. We must not forget that without a common ideologi- 
cal basis there can be no question of unity. In the same ar- 
ticle, moreover, we get the prospect of a widened scope of 
our differences. On page 33, for example, the author writes: 
"Perhaps our differences arise out of different interpretations of 
Marxism?" Again, I ask, to what end the effort we put forth? 

Point "c" of Paragraph 4 of the Geneva resolution speaks 
of the necessity to struggle against all opponents of revolu- 
tionary Marxism; however, we are told that perhaps, in gen- 
eral, we understand Marxism differently. 

I must also mention that all this is accompanied by argu- 
ments on the harmfulness of fettering thought, etc., which 



is precisely what all the Bernsteinians are saying. This 
was stated at the Liibeck Parteitag, 94 and it is also repeated 
by the followers of Jaures, 95 while the points of the agree- 
ment say nothing about this, since the agreement was made 
expressly on the basis of revolutionary Marxism. Even faint 
manifestations of criticism would have led to a complete 
breach. We have met to discuss the content of the opinions 
and not the freedom of opinion. References to French and 
German models are most unfortunate. The Germans have 
already achieved what we are still struggling for. They 
have a united Social-Democracy which exercises leader- 
ship in the political struggle. Our Social-Democracy is not 
yet the leader of the revolutionary groups; on the contrary, 
there are signs of the revival of other revolutionary tenden- 
cies. In the articles in Rabocheye Dyelo (No. 10), not only 
are there no signs of a complete break in principle with op- 
portunism, there is even something worse — there is praise 
of the predominance of the spontaneous movement. I am 
not cavilling at words. All of us, the comrades from Iskra, 
the comrades from Sotsial-Demokrat , and I, are calling at- 
tention only to the basic tendencies of the articles; but those 
words, as the Germans say, ins Gesicht schlagen.* Particu- 
larly as regards these points the Geneva resolution could 
not be clearer. The recently emerged Workers' Party for the 
Political Liberation of Russia 96 chants in harmony with 
these publications. 

Consider in the article the famous distinction between 
tactics-as-plan and tactics-as-process. The author says 
that tactics-as-plan is in contradiction to the fundamental 
principle of revolutionary Marxism, and he thinks that one 
may speak of tactics-as-"process", taken to mean the growth 
of the Party's tasks, which increase as the Party grows. In 
my opinion this is simply unwillingness to discuss. We have 
expended so much time and effort on the formulation of defi- 
nite political tasks, and at the Geneva Conference so much 
was said about them; and now we are suddenly being talked 
to about "tactics-as-plan" and "tactics-as-process". To me 
this represents a return to the specific, narrow Bernsteinian 
product of Rabochaya Mysl which asserted that only that 

Offend the nostrils. — Ed. 



struggle should be conducted which is possible, and that the 
possible struggle is that which is going on. We on our part 
maintain that only the distortion of Marxism is growing. 
The Geneva resolution says that no stages are necessary for 
the transition to political agitation, and then an article sud- 
denly appears in which "the literature of exposure" is contra- 
posed to the "proletarian struggle". Martynov writes about 
students and liberals, holding that they can worry about 
democratic demands themselves. We, however, think that 
the entire peculiarity of Russian Social-Democracy consists 
in the fact that the liberal democracy has not taken the ini- 
tiative in the political struggle. If the liberals know better 
what they have to do and can do it themselves, there is 
nothing for us to do. The author of the article goes as far as 
to assume that the government will adopt concrete, admini- 
strative measures of its own accord. 

As we all know, there were differences of opinion on the 
question of terror at the Geneva Conference. After the Con- 
ference, a part of the Union Abroad, the Bund, 97 at its con- 
ference, came out decisively against terror. On page 23, 
however, the author writes that we "do not wish to set 
ourselves against the terrorist moods". This is the sheerest 

Published for the first time Published according to 

the text of the minutes 

The minutes break off at this point. — Ed. 




1. Do all the three organisations accept, in principle, the 
resolution of the June Conference? 

2. Is the Union of Russian Social-Democrats Abroad 
willing and able so to organise publication activity as to 
render impossible unprincipled and opportunist deviations 
from revolutionary Marxism — deviations that create con- 
fusion of mind so dangerous for our movement — and to elim- 
inate all flirting with tacit and avowed Bernsteinism, as 
well as servile acceptance of the elementary forms and 
spontaneity of the movement, which must inevitably lead 
to the conversion of the labour movement into an instru- 
ment of bourgeois democracy? 

First published in December Published according to 

1901, in the pamphlet, the text in the pamphlet 

Documents of the "Unity" 



What astonishing solicitude for the famine-stricken our 
government is displaying! What an amazingly long cir- 
cular (of August 17) the Minister of the Interior has issued 
to the governors of the affected gubernias! A veritable lit- 
erary work, more than sixteen pages long, written by Mr. 
Sipyagin to explain the government's food policy in its 
entirety. The document was apparently published to im- 
press the "public", as if to say: See how solicitous we are, 
how prompt we are with relief measures, how providential 
we are in organising in advance food-kitchens and all forms 
and phases of their activity! It must be admitted that the 
circular issued by the Ministry of the Interior certainly 
does create an impression, both by its bulk and (if one has 
the patience to read it through) by its contents. A frank 
exposition of the government's policy is always the best 
means for agitation against the tsarist government and, 
while expressing our profound gratitude to Mr. Sipyagin, 
we make bold to suggest that the other ministers speak 
more frequently of their programme in circulars published 
for general information. 

If one has the patience to read through Mr. Sipyagin's 
circular to the end, we said. A great deal of patience will 
be required, for three-fourths, nay, nine-tenths of the cir- 
cular consists of the usual official banalities. It is a rehash 
of things known for years and repeated a hundred times 
even in the "Code of Laws". 98 It is a mass of circumlocution, 
a detailed description of the ceremonial in the relations 
between Chinese mandarins; it is in the grand style of the 
chancelleries, with periods thirty-six lines long, in a "jar- 
gon" that makes the heart bleed for our native Russian 



language. As you read deeply into this effusion, you feel as 
though you were in a Russian police-station with its musty 
walls and its all-pervading specific stench, in which the 
officials personify in their appearance and bearing the most 
case-hardened bureaucracy, while in the courtyard, vis- 
ible through the window, gloomy buildings loom reminis- 
cent of the torture chamber. 

Three main points in the government's new programme 
attract particular attention: first, greater power is vested 
in the individual officials and care is taken that the bureau- 
cratic spirit and service discipline should be strengthened 
and protected from any breath of fresh air; secondly, a scale 
of relief is fixed for the famine-stricken, viz., regulations 
on the rationing of bread to be given to a "needy" family; 
and, thirdly, despairing horror is expressed at the fact that 
"disloyal" persons, capable of arousing the people against 
the government, are rushing in to help the famine-stricken, 
and timely measures against such "agitation" are provided 
for. We shall deal with each of these points in detail. 

Only a year has elapsed since the government deprived 
the Zemstvos of the right to manage food affairs and trans- 
ferred that administration to the rural superintendents 
and uyezd congresses (law of June 12, 1900). Now before 
the law has come into force, it has been repealed by a mere 
circular. The reports of a number of provincial governors 
sufficed to convince the government that the law had be- 
come unsuitable! This makes plainly evident the worth- 
lessness of laws that are turned out like pancakes by the 
St. Petersburg government departments without prior 
discussion on a serious level by people really informed 
and capable of expressing an independent opinion, and 
without serious intention to create a more satisfactory state 
of affairs, laws that are dictated by the ambition of some 
cunning minister eager to further his career and display his 
loyalty. The Zemstvo is not loyal — take the food adminis- 
tration out of its hands! But before this could be done it 
was discovered that the rural superintendents and even the 
uyezd congresses, consisting exclusively of government 
officials, were inclined to discuss matters too much. Appar- 
ently there were rural superintendents stupid enough to 
call famine famine and simple enough to think it necessary 



to fight against the famine, and not against those who really 
want to help the famine-stricken; and in all probability 
there were officials in the uyezd congresses who were not 
subordinated to the Ministry of the Interior and who also 
failed to understand the real tasks of "home politics". And 
so, by the mere circular of a minister a new "Central Uyezd" 
— no, this is not a printer's error — a "Central Uyezd Food 
Board" is set up, the whole purpose of which is to prevent 
the infiltration of disloyal persons and disloyal ideas and 
the commission of imprudent acts in the administration 
of food distribution. Thus, the Minister considers as im- 
prudent and prohibits the "premature" compilation (i.e., 
not immediately before the bread distribution) of lists of 
the needy. It arouses, he says, "exaggerated hopes" among the 
people! The Central Uyezd Food Board is concentrated in 
the hands of a single person, and the Ministry recommends 
the uyezd marshal of the nobility for the post. Indeed, that 
official is so closely connected with the governor and per- 
forms so many police functions that he will doubtless be 
able to understand the true spirit of the food policy. More- 
over, he is a big local landed proprietor, respected and 
trusted by all the landlords. A man of that type will cer- 
tainly understand, as no one else will, the Minister's pro- 
found idea on the "demoralising" effects of relief given to 
persons "able to dispense with it". As for the gubernatorial 
powers, the Minister refers to this subject at the very begin- 
ning of the circular and repeats over and over again that 
the governor is responsible for everything, that all must 
obey the governor, that the governor must be able to take 
"special" measures, etc. To this day the governor in a Rus- 
sian province has always been a real satrap upon whose pleas- 
ure the existence of any and every institution, and even of 
every individual, in the province "in his charge" depends; 
but now a real "state of war" has been established. Severity 
increased to an inordinate degree — in connection with fam- 
ine relief! This is so truly Russian! 

But greater stringency, intensified surveillance — all this 
demands increased expenditure on the bureaucratic ma- 
chine, a fact of which the Minister has not lost sight; the 
uyezd marshals of the nobility, or other persons directing 
the Central Uyezd Food Board, will be granted "a special 



sum" to cover their expenses, "concerning the approximate 
amount whereof Your Excellency will tender the appropri- 
ate application to me", adds the circular in its "special" 
jargon. In addition, further sums will be granted as 
follows: 1,000 rubles in a lump sum for uyezd council 
"office expenses"; from 1,000 to 1,500 rubles for expenses 
of the gubernia governor's offices. It is the offices that will 
have to carry on most of the activity, since famine relief will 
consist almost entirely of office work — how can the offices 
be left without the necessary funds? The offices come first, 
and what is left can go to the famine-stricken. 

Mr. Sipyagin displays remarkable persistence and resource- 
fulness in devising measures for reducing famine relief. 
In the first place, he calls upon all governors to discuss 
which uyezds "have been affected by the harvest failure" 
(the final determination on this matter rests with the Minis- 
try itself, since even governors cannot be trusted to avoid 
"exaggeration"!). Then follow the instructions indicating 
when uyezds are not to be regarded as affected areas: (1) if 
not more than one-third of its volosts* are affected; (2) if 
a grain shortage is usual in the uyezd and additional grain 
is purchased annually with subsidiary earnings; (3) if local 
resources are insufficient to grant relief. Here we have an 
example in miniature of the bureaucratic solution of the 
food problem — one measuring rod for all! What is the size 
of the population of one-third of the volosts? how seriously 
are they affected? have not the usual "earnings" been reduced 
this year by the serious industrial crisis? — all these are idle 
questions after the categorical "directions" of the Ministry. 
But the worst is still to come. The point at issue is — who is 
to be regarded as needy and how much relief is to be granted? 
Mr. Sipyagin recommends the following "approximate" 
computation which "has rarely been found to be greatly 
exaggerated". (What we fear most of all is exaggeration; we 
fear exaggerated hopes, we fear exaggerated loans! Famine, 
unemployment — all these are merely "exaggerations". Such 
is the idea that clearly emerges from all the ministerial reas- 
oning.) In the first place, a test threshing is to be made to 
determine the "average yield per dessiatine in each village", 

See footnote to p. 36 — Tr. 



after which the area sown by each farmer is to be esti- 
mated. Why not also determine the size of the crop harvested 
by farmers of different means? The harvest of a poor peasant 
is smaller, and the term "average" is disadvantageous pre- 
cisely to those in distress. Secondly, those who gather not 
less than forty-eight poods of grain per family per annum 
(counting twelve poods for three adults and six poods for 
two children) are not regarded as being in distress. This is 
the sort of calculation a tight-fisted kulak could be expected 
to make. In an ordinary year even the poorest peasant fam- 
ily of five or six persons consumes eighty, not forty-eight, 
poods of grain, whereas the middle (average) peasant family 
of five consumes 110 poods, as is known from surveys of peas- 
ant farming. Consequently, the tsarist government is cut- 
ting down by one half the amount of grain actually needed 
for food. Thirdly, says the circular, "this quantity [viz., 
forty-eight poods per family] is to be reduced by one half, 
in view of the fact that the worker element represents about 
fifty per cent of the population". The government stubbornly 
insists upon its standing rule that the working population 
must not be given relief because, as it argues, they can earn 
money. But the Minister has already ordered that the uyezds 
in which the population is normally engaged in auxiliary 
occupations shall not come under the heading of affected areas. 
Why, then, should he deprive the working population of re- 
lief for a second time? Everyone knows that, not only are 
there no opportunities for earning extra money this year, 
but that even the usual subsidiary earnings have declined 
owing to the crisis. The government itself has banished many 
thousands of unemployed workers from the cities to the 
rural areas. The experience of previous famines has shown 
that exclusion of the adult working population from relief 
leads only to the division of the existing inadequate relief 
between children and adults. No, the saying that "you can- 
not skin one ox twice" would be far too flattering for a 
Ministry of the Interior that in a twofold way excludes from 
the relief lists all who are able to work. Fourthly, this relief, 
totally inadequate and reduced by one half, is still fur- 
ther cut down by one-third, one-fifth, or one-tenth, "in 
proportion to the approximate number of well-to-do farmers 
having stocks left over from last year, or any other ma- 



terial resources"! This is the third hide flayed from the same 
ox. What kind of "stock" can a peasant have if he has harvest- 
ed not more than forty-eight poods of grain for his whole 
family? All other earnings have been taken into account 
twice; moreover, even the Russian peasant, with all the pov- 
erty to which government policy and exploitation by cap- 
italists and landlords have reduced him, cannot live 
by bread alone. In addition to bread, he must spend money 
on fuel, clothes, and other food, as well as on repairs to his 
house. In ordinary years, as scientific inquiries into peas- 
ant farming inform us, even the poorest peasant spends 
more than half his income on requirements other than bread. 
If all these things are taken into account, it will be found 
that the Minister calculates the relief to be granted at one- 
fourth or one-fifth of what is actually needed. This is not 
fighting famine, it is fighting those who really want to help 
the famine-stricken. 

The circular concludes with a regular crusade against 
private philanthropists. It has not infrequently been re- 
vealed, thunders Mr. Sipyagin, that certain philanthropists 
strive to arouse among the population "discontent with the 
present system and encourage the people to make totally 
unjustified demands on the government", that they conduct 
"anti-government agitation", etc. These accusations are 
absolutely false. It is well known that in 1891 leaflets were 
distributed by "peasant well-wishers" 99 in which the people 
were rightly told who their real enemy was; probably other 
attempts at agitation were made in connection with the 
famine. But there was not a single case of revolutionaries 
carrying on propaganda under cover of philanthropy. The 
vast majority of the philanthropists — this is an undoubted 
fact — were just philanthropists and nothing more. When, 
therefore, Mr. Sipyagin states that many of them were 
"persons whose political past is not irreproachable", we 
ask him, who among us now has an "irreproachable past"? 
Even "highly-placed persons" often paid tribute to the 
general democratic movement in their youth. Of course, 
we do not wish to say that to carry on agitation against 
the government in connection with the famine is impermis- 
sible or even undesirable. On the contrary, such agitation 
is always necessary, particularly in times of famine. We 



merely wish to point out that Mr. Sipyagin is straying into 
the realm of fiction in trying to make it appear that his fears 
and anxieties are based on past experience. We wish to say 
that Mr. Sipyagin's statement is further proof of an old 
truism: the police government is afraid of even the slightest 
contact between the people and intellectuals that are in the 
least independent and honest, it fears every true and bold 
utterance addressed directly to the people, it suspects — 
and rightly so — that mere solicitude for the genuine (not 
imaginary) satisfaction of the people's needs is tantamount 
to agitation against the government; for the people see that 
private philanthropists sincerely desire to help them, while 
the tsarist government officials hamper and reduce relief, 
minimise the extent of the distress, impede the opening of 
food-kitchens, etc. Now the new circular demands that all 
contributions and appeals for contributions, as well as the 
opening of food-kitchens, "be under the control of the au- 
thorities"; it demands that all relief workers arriving in the 
affected areas "present themselves" to the governor, that 
they may choose assistants only with his consent, and that 
they submit to him a report of their activities! Those who 
desire to help the famine-stricken must submit to police 
officials and to the police system of curtailing relief and 
shamefully reducing relief rates. Whoever refuses to submit 
to this despicable procedure must not be allowed to carry 
on relief work — such is the essence of government policy. 
Mr. Sipyagin howls that "politically unreliable persons are 
eagerly taking advantage of the famine to pursue their 
criminal aims on the pretence of helping their neighbours", 
and this cry is taken up by the entire reactionary press 
(e.g., Moskovskiye Vedomosti). How horrible! To exploit 
the sufferings of the people for political purposes! In point 
of fact, what is horrible is precisely the fact that in Rus- 
sia every kind of activity, even philanthropic work most 
remote from politics, inevitably brings people capable 
of independent thought into conflict with police tyranny 
and with measures of "suppression", "prohibition", "restric- 
tion", etc., etc. It is horrible that the government, under 
the cloak of high political considerations, pursues its Judas 
policy 100 of taking bread from the starving, cutting down 
relief to one-fifth, prohibiting everyone except police of- 



ficials from approaching the starving! We repeat the call 
issued in Iskra: Organise a campaign of exposure against 
the police government's food policy; expose in the uncen- 
sored free press the outrages committed by local satraps, 
the whole avaricious tactic of curtailing relief, the miser- 
liness and inadequacy of the relief, the despicable attempt 
to minimise the extent of the famine, and the shameful 
struggle against those who desire to help the famine- 
stricken! We advise all who have a grain of sincere sympathy 
for the people in their dire distress to take measures to bring 
to their knowledge the true sense and significance of the 
ministerial circular. It is only because of the unbounded 
ignorance of the people that such circulars do not immedi- 
ately call forth an outburst of general indignation. Let 
the class-conscious workers who stand closest to the peas- 
antry and to the less enlightened urban masses take the 
initiative in this work of exposing the government! 



Rabochaya Mysl, the organ of the St. Petersburg Com- 
mittee (League of Struggle 101 ), in its issue No. 12, pub- 
lished an article replying to a note in the first issue of 
Iskra on the split in the Union of Russian Social-Democrats 
Abroad. Unfortunately, the reply assiduously evades the 
very essence of the controversy; such methods of discussion 
will never make the case clear. We have maintained and 
continue to maintain that a split has taken place in the 
Union of Russian Social-Democrats Abroad, that the Union 
broke up into two sections after the withdrawal from the 
conference in 1900 of a substantial minority, including the 
Emancipation of Labour group, 102 which had established 
the Union and formerly edited all its publications. Now 
that the split has occurred, neither of the two sections can 
occupy the place formerly occupied by the old Union as a 
whole. The St. Petersburg Committee does not attempt 
to refute this opinion when (for some unknown reason) it 
speaks only of Plekhanov and not of the Sotsial-Demokrat 
organisation and when it lets its readers know only indi- 
rectly that the St. Petersburg League of Struggle apparently 
denies the fact of the split and continues to regard one of 
the sections of the late Union Abroad as the whole Union. 

To what end engage in a polemic if there is no desire to 
examine the essence of the opponent's opinion and frankly 
to express one's own? 

To continue. We have maintained and hold to our view 
that the principal cause (not pretext, but cause) of the 
split was a difference of opinion on principles, namely, a 
difference between revolutionary and opportunist Social- 
Democracy. For this reason alone, what has happened in 



the Union of Russian Social-Democrats Abroad cannot 
be regarded as anything but a split in the old Union Abroad. 
The question arises — how does the St. Petersburg Committee 
regard the matter? Will it dare to deny the existence of pro- 
found differences in principle between the two sections 
of the late Union Abroad? We do not know, because the St. 
Petersburg Committee contrived to write a "reply" which 
does not contain a single word about the main question. 
We again ask the St. Petersburg comrades — and not only 
the St. Petersburg comrades — does not a polemic that 
evades the heart of the matter threaten to degenerate into 
an unpleasant wrangle? Is it, in fact, worth while engaging 
in a polemic if there is no desire to examine the essentials 
of the question and to express one's opinion definitely and 
without reservations, or if it is regarded as premature to 
do so? 

Iskra, No. 9, October 1901 

Published according to 
the Iskra text 



The foreign branch of the Iskra organisation has united 
with the Sotsial-Demokrat revolutionary organisation ab- 
road, and has formed with it a single organisation under the 
name of the League of Russian Revolutionary Social- 
Democracy Abroad. 103 As will be seen from its published 
declaration, the new organisation proposes to issue a number 
of propaganda and agitational pamphlets. The League is 
the representative of Iskra abroad. Thus, the organisation 
of revolutionary Social-Democrats abroad, led by the Eman- 
cipation of Labour group, has finally merged with the 
organisation grouped round our paper. As before, the Eman- 
cipation of Labour group will participate directly in editing 
and managing our publications. 

The unification of the Russian revolutionary Social- 
Democratic organisations abroad was accomplished 'after 
their attempt to combine with the Union of Russian Social- 
Democrats Abroad (which issues Rabocheye Dyelo) had 
failed. Early in summer, a conference of representatives 
of the three organisations drafted an agreement. The 
basis of the agreement was provided by a number of 
resolutions on matters of principle, according to which the 
Union Abroad would put an end to all flirting with Econo- 
mism and Bernsteinism, and recognise the principles of 
revolutionary Social-Democracy. There was reason to hope 
that unity would be accomplished; for until then the only 
obstacle to a rapprochement was the vacillation of the 
Union Abroad and of its organ, Rabocheye Dyelo, with re- 
gard to questions of principle. These hopes were not justi- 
fied, since the recently published No. 10 of Rabocheye Dyelo 
contained editorial articles openly directed against the 



resolutions that had been drawn up at the conference with 
the participation of the delegation of the Union Abroad. 
Apparently, the Union Abroad again swerved towards the 
Right Wing of our movement. In fact, at the conference of 
the three organisations, the Union Abroad proposed "amend- 
ments" to the above-mentioned resolutions, which clearly 
showed that it was reverting to its previous deviations. 
The other organisations felt obliged to leave the conference, 
and in fact did so. Apparently, our comrades of the Union 
Abroad are not yet sufficiently aware of the danger of the 
intermediary position their organisation occupies between 
revolutionary socialism and the opportunism that plays 
into the hands of the liberals. We hope that time and bitter 
experience will convince them of the error of their tactics. 
The effort observed throughout the Party, not only to work 
for the expansion of our movement, but also to raise its 
qualitative level, is the best guarantee that the much- 
desired unification of all our forces will be accomplished 
under the banner of revolutionary Social-Democracy, which 
our paper serves. 

Iskra, No. 9, October 1901 

Published according to 
the Iskra text 



Once again "provisional regulations"! 

This time, however, it is not disobedient students that 
are affected, but peasants who are guilty of starving. 

On September 15, the "Provisional Regulations Gov- 
erning the Participation of the Population in the Famine- 
Affected Areas in the Works Undertaken by Order of the 
Departments of Railways, Agriculture, and State Property" 
received the Imperial sanction and were immediately pro- 
mulgated. When the Russian peasant becomes acquainted 
with these regulations (not from the newspapers, of course, 
but from personal experience), he will obtain further con- 
firmation of the truth knocked into him during centuries 
of enslavement to the landlords and the officials: when the 
officials solemnly declare that the peasant "is to be allowed 
to participate" in any large or small affair, either in paying 
redemption money for the landlords' land, or in public 
works organised in connection with the famine, some new 
Egyptian plague must be expected. 

In actuality, the entire contents of the Provisional Reg- 
ulations of September 15 give the impression of being a 
new penal law, a supplementary regulation to the Penal 
Code. In the first place, the very organisation and man- 
agement of the works are hemmed in with as much profound 
"caution" and as many bureaucratic complications as if 
rebels or convicts, rather than famine-stricken peasants, 
were being dealt with. One would imagine that the organi- 
sation of public works was the simplest thing in the world: 
all that is required is that the Zemstvos and other insti- 
tutions be provided with funds and employ workers to 



build roads, clear forests, etc. Under ordinary circum- 
stances, this is how such works are carried out. Now, however, 
a new system is introduced. The rural superintendent sug- 
gests what kind of work is to be done, the governor gives 
his opinion, which is transmitted to the special "Confer- 
ence on Food Affairs" in St. Petersburg, composed of repre- 
sentatives of various government departments, under the 
chairmanship of the Deputy Minister of the Interior. More- 
over, the general management of this work is vested in the 
Minister, who may appoint special representatives to act 
on his behalf. The St. Petersburg Committee will even fix 
the maximum pay for the workers, which, no doubt, means 
that it will see to it that the peasant is not "corrupted" 
by excessive pay! Apparently, the object of the Provision- 
al Regulations of September 15 is to hinder public works 
on a large scale, precisely as the Sipyagin circular of August 
17 hindered relief to the famine-stricken. 

But still more important and more vicious are the special 
regulations governing the engagement of peasants for pub- 
lic works. 

If the work is carried on "away from their place of res- 
idence" (which naturally affects the overwhelming major- 
ity of cases), the workmen must form special artels under 
the surveillance of the rural superintendent, who is to approve 
the overseer responsible for maintaining order. Starving 
peasants must not dare to elect their overseer themselves, 
as workmen usually do. They are placed under the command 
of the rural superintendent armed with the birch! The 
names of the members of artels are to be entered in a special 
list, which takes the place of the legal residence permit.... 
Instead of individual passports, therefore, there will be lists 
of artel members. The purpose of the change? To restrict 
the peasant; for, with his own passport, he could make bet- 
ter arrangements for himself in the new place, or leave the 
work more easily upon being dissatisfied. 

Further, "the maintenance of order en route and the deliv- 
ery of consignments of workmen to the work managers 
are entrusted to officials specially appointed by the Ministry 
of the Interior". Free workmen are given travelling allow- 
ances; serfs are "shipped" in listed consignments and 
"delivered" to special officials. Are not the peasants right 



in regarding "public" and state work as a new form of serf- 

Indeed, the law of September 15 reduces the starving 
peasants to a position close to that of serfs, not only be- 
cause it deprives them of the freedom of movement. The 
law gives the officials the right to deduct part of their wages 
to be sent to the workmen's families "if the gubernia author- 
ities in the district where their families reside" consider 
it necessary. The money the workmen earn is to be disposed 
of without their consent. The peasant is stupid; he cannot 
look after his family himself. The authorities can do that 
far better. Who indeed has not heard how well they cared 
for the peasant families in the military settlements 104 ? 

One thing stands in the way, however. The peasants are 
no longer so submissive as they were at the time of the 
military settlements. They may demand ordinary passports 
and protest against deductions from their wages without their 
consent! Hence, it is necessary to resort to greater strin- 
gency, and so a special clause provides that "the preservation 
of order among the workers in the places of work is entrusted 
by the order of the Ministry of the Interior, to the local ru- 
ral superintendents, the officers of the special corps of gen- 
darmerie, police officials, or persons specially appointed 
for the purpose". Apparently, the government a priori 
regards the starving peasants as "rebels", and, in addition 
to the general surveillance conducted by the entire Russian 
police force, to which all Russian workers are subjected, 
it establishes an especially strict surveillance. It is decided 
beforehand to treat the peasants with an iron hand for hav- 
ing dared to "exaggerate" the famine and for putting for- 
ward (as Sipyagin expressed himself in his circular) "totally 
unjustified demands on the government". 

To avoid having dealings with the courts in the event 
of any expression of discontent by the workmen, the Provi- 
sional Regulations empower the officials to place workmen 
under arrest for a period not exceeding three days without 
trial for disturbing the peace, for failing to work conscien- 
tiously, and for failing to obey orders. A free workman must 
be brought before a magistrate before whom he may defend 
himself, and against whose sentence he may appeal; but a 
starving peasant may be imprisoned without trial! The only 



penalty that can be inflicted upon a free working man for 
refusing to work is dismissal, but according to the new law, 
"for persistent refusal to work" the peasant may be sent back 
to his home under escort, together with thieves and bandits! 

The new Provisional Regulations are in fact penal servit- 
ude regulations for the famine-stricken, regulations that 
sentence them to hard labour and deprivation of rights for 
having dared to importune the officials with requests for aid. 
The government has not been satisfied with depriving the 
Zemstvos of jurisdiction over food distribution, with pro- 
hibiting private persons from organising food-kitchens 
without the permission of the police, and with ordering 
real needs to be reduced to one-fifth; it also declares the 
peasant to be without rights and orders him to be punished 
without trial. To the constant penal servitude of a starving 
existence and overwork is now added the threat of penal 
servitude on public works. 

These are the measures taken by the government with 
respect to the peasants. As for the workers, the punishment 
meted out to them is more strikingly described in the "In- 
dictment", which appeared in our last issue, in connection 
with the unrest at the Obukhov Works in May. Iskra dealt 
with these events in its June and July issues. The legal 
press was silent about the trial, probably remembering how 
even the most loyal Novoye Vremya "suffered" for attempting 
to write on this subject. A few lines appeared in the press 
to the effect that the trial had taken place at the end of 
September; subsequently one of the southern newspapers 
casually reported the verdict: two were sentenced to penal 
servitude, eight were acquitted, the rest were sentenced to 
imprisonment and detention in houses of correction for terms 
ranging from two to three and a half years. 

Thus, in the article, "Another Massacre" (Iskra, No. 5),* 
we underestimated the vindictiveness of the Russian Gov- 
ernment. We believed that in the struggle it had recourse 
to military reprisals as a last resort, fearing to appeal to 
the courts. It turns out, however, that it managed to combine 
one with the other: after assaulting the crowd and killing 

See present volume, pp. 25-30. — Ed. 



three workers, thirty-seven men out of several thousand 
were seized and sentenced to Draconic punishments. 

From the indictment we are able to judge to some extent 
the manner in which they were seized and tried. Anton 
Ivanovich Yermakov, Yephraim Stepanovich Dakhin, and 
Anton Ivanovich Gavrilov are charged with being the 
ringleaders. The indictment states that Yermakov had leaf- 
lets at his house (according to the evidence of Mikhailova, 
an assistant in a government liquor shop, who, however, 
was not called upon to testify at the trial), that he talked 
about the struggle for political liberty, and that on April 
22 he went to Nevsky Prospekt with a red flag. Further it 
is stressed that Gavrilov, too, possessed and distributed 
leaflets calling for a demonstration on April 22. In regard 
to the accused Yakovleva, the charge is likewise that she 
participated in certain secret gatherings. It is clear, there- 
fore, that the prosecutor sought to single out as ringleaders 
those whom the secret police suspected of being politically 
active workers. The political character of the case is appar- 
ent also from the fact that the crowd shouted, "We want 
liberty!" and from the connection with the First of May. 
It should be said in passing that it was the dismissal of 
twenty-six men for "losing time" on the First of May that set 
off the conflagration; but the prosecutor, of course, said not 
a word about the illegality of the dismissals! 

The case is clear. Those suspected of being political ene- 
mies were made to stand trial. The secret police submitted 
the list. And the police "confirmed", of course, that these 
persons had been in the crowd, thrown stones, and stood 
out among the rest. 

The trial was used as a shameful cloak for the second act 
of political vengeance (following the massacre). Politics 
were mentioned in order to make the case appear more se- 
rious, but no explanation of the political circumstances 
connected with the case was allowed. The men were tried 
as criminals, according to Article 263 of the Criminal Code, 
viz., on the charge of "overt rebellion against the authori- 
ties appointed by the government", rebellion, moreover, 
by armed persons (?). The charge was a frame-up. The 
police had instructed the judges to examine only one side 
of the case. 



We wish to point out that according to Articles 263-265 
of the Code, a sentence of penal servitude may be imposed 
for participation in a demonstration of any kind: for "overt 
rebellion for the purpose of preventing the execution of 
the orders and measures prescribed by the government", 
even if the "rebels" were not armed, and even if they did 
not commit any overt act of violence! Russian laws mete out 
sentences of penal servitude with a free hand. It is time we 
saw to it that every such trial is converted into a political 
trial by the accused themselves, so that the government 
shall not dare in the future to conceal its political vindic- 
tiveness by the farce of a criminal trial! 

Yet what "progress", indeed, is to be observed in the ad- 
ministration of justice as compared, for example, with 
1885! Then the weavers in the Morozov mills 105 were tried 
before a judge and a jury, full reports of the trial appeared 
in the press, and at the trial workers came forward as 
witnesses and exposed the outrageous conduct of the employ- 
er. But now — a court consisting of officials sitting with 
representatives of the social-estates without an opinion of 
their own, a trial behind closed doors, dumb silence on the 
part of the press, hand-picked witnesses: factory officials; 
watchmen; policemen, who have beaten the people; soldiers, 
who have shot down the workers. What a despicable farce! 

If we compare the "progress" made in the reprisals against 
the workers between the years 1885 and 1901 with the "prog- 
ress" made in the struggle against the famine-stricken be- 
tween the years 1891 and 1901, we obtain some idea of the 
rapid spread of popular indignation in extent and in depth, 
and of the rising fury of the government, which is "clamp- 
ing down" on both private philanthropists and the peasants, 
and is terrorising the workers with penal servitude. But 
threats of penal servitude will not terrify workers whose 
leaders showed no fear of death in open street battles 
with the myrmidons of the tsar. The memory of our 
heroic comrades murdered and tortured to death in prison 
will increase tenfold the strength of the new fighters and 
will rouse thousands to rally to their aid, and like the 
eighteen-year-old Marfa Yakovleva, they will openly say: 
"We stand by our brothers!" In addition to reprisals by the 
police and the military against participants in demonstra- 



tions, the government intends to prosecute them for rebel- 
lion; we will retaliate by uniting our revolutionary forces 
and winning over to our side all who are oppressed by the 
tyranny of tsarism, and by systematically preparing for 
the uprising of the whole people! 

Iskra, No. 10, November 1901 

Published according to 
the Iskra text 


Written in October 1901 Published according to 

First published in December the Zar y a text 

1901, in Zarya, No. 2-3 
Signed: T. Kh. 


I. FAMINE 106 

Again famine! The last ten years have been marked, not 
only by the ruin of the peasantry, but by its veritable ex- 
tinction, which has proceeded with such an astonishing 
rapidity that no war, however prolonged and bitter, has 
claimed such a host of victims. The most powerful forces of 
modern times are massed against the peasant: world capi- 
talism, which is developing at an ever increasing rate, has 
created transoceanic competition, and has provided the small 
minority of farmers able to hold out in the desperate strug- 
gle for survival with the most improved methods and imple- 
ments of production; and the militarist state, whose adven- 
turous policy in its colonial possessions in the Far East and 
Central Asia involves enormous costs heavily burdening the 
masses of working people, the state which, in addition, is 
organising at the people's expense ever newer "suppression" 
and "restraints" to counteract the growing discontent and 
indignation of the masses. 

Since famine has become a usual phenomenon in our 
country, it would be natural to expect that the government 
would try to fix and strengthen its usual food distribution 
policy. While in 1891-92 the government was caught unawares 
and was at first thrown into consternation, now, however, 
it is rich in experience and knows precisely where (and how) 
to proceed. In its July issue (No. 6), Iskra wrote: "At this 
moment a black cloud of people's distress is threatening our 
country and the government is once again making prepara- 
tions for the exercise of its disgraceful function of brute vio- 
lence to deprive the starving people of bread and punish 
everyone who, contrary to government policy, renders 
aid to the hungry." 



The government's preparations were swift and determined. 
The spirit in which they were made is illustrated by the 
Elizavetgrad affair. Prince Obolensky, Governor of Kher- 
son Gubernia, immediately declared war upon all who dared 
to write or speak about the famine in Elizavetgrad, appeal 
for public aid for the famine-stricken, form private groups, 
and invite private persons to organise this aid. The Zemstvo 
doctors wrote to the newspapers stating that famine was rag- 
ing in the uyezd, that the people were disease-stricken and 
were dying, and that the "bread" they were eating was 
something unbelievable, not deserving to be called bread. 
The governor launched a polemic against the doctors and pub- 
lished official denials. Anyone at all acquainted with the 
general conditions under which our press has to work, anyone 
who will take the trouble to recall the severe persecution to 
which even moderate organs and incomparably more moderate 
authors have been subjected recently, will understand the 
significance of this "polemic" between the head of a gubernia 
and mere Zemstvo doctors who are not even in government 
service. It was simply an act of gagging them, an outright 
declaration without any ceremony that the government 
would not tolerate the truth about the famine. But what is 
a mere declaration? Whatever may be said of others, the 
Russian Government certainly cannot be reproached with 
restricting itself to mere declarations when the opportunity 
exists to "apply power". And Prince Obolensky hastened to 
apply power; he appeared personally on the scene of war — 
war upon the famine-stricken and upon those who, though 
not on the pay roll of any department, desired to render 
real aid to the famine-stricken; and he prohibited a number 
of private persons (including Madame Uspenskaya), who had 
come to the famine-stricken area, from opening food-kitchens. 
Like Julius Caesar, Prince Obolensky came, saw, and con- 
quered; and the telegraph promptly informed the entire 
Russian reading public of his victory. One thing is perplex- 
ing — that this victory, this brazen challenge to all Russians 
who have retained at least a shred of decency, a grain of 
civic courage, met with no opposition whatever from those 
who, one may say, were most interested in the matter. Very 
many persons in Kherson Gubernia doubtless knew — and 
know now — the reason for the silence about the famine and 



the fight against famine relief; but no one has published a 
single statement on this instructive case, or the relevant 
documents, or even a simple appeal to protest against the 
monstrous prohibition of food-kitchens. When the govern- 
ment carries out its threat to dismiss all who "lost time" 
on the First of May, the workers declare a strike; but the in- 
telligentsia keeps silent when intellectuals are prohibited ... 
from rendering aid to the famine-stricken. 

Encouraged, as it were, by success in the first skirmish with 
the "sowers of discord" who dare to aid the famine-stricken, 
the government soon launched an attack all along the line. 
Prince Obolensky's valiant exploit was elevated to a guiding 
principle, into a law, which would henceforth regulate the 
relations between all administrators and all persons accesso- 
ry to the distribution of food (the word "accessory", strictly 
speaking, is a term in criminal law peculiar to the Penal 
Code; but as we have seen and shall see below, at the present 
time rendering aid to the famine-stricken without authority 
is regarded as a crime). Such a law was soon enacted — 
this time in the simplified form of "a circular from the Min- 
ister of the Interior to all governors of gubernias affected 
by the harvest failure of 1901" (August 17, 1901, No. 20). 

It may be assumed that this circular will serve for many 
years to come as a souvenir of the monumental heights to 
which police fear rises in the face of the people's distress, 
a fear of closer ties between the famine-stricken people 
and the "intellectuals" who desire to help them; at the same 
time, it is a fear that reveals a firm intention to suppress 
all "clamour" about the famine and to restrict relief to the 
most insignificant scope. One can only regret that the immod- 
erate length of the circular and the ponderous official style 
in which it is written will hinder the public at large from 
becoming acquainted with its contents. 

It will be remembered that the law of June 12, 1900, 
took the management of food affairs out of the hands of the 
Zemstvos and transferred it to the rural superintendents 
and uyezd congresses. What, it seemed, could be more reli- 
able? The elective principle was eliminated; persons in 
any way independent of the authorities would have no ju- 
risdiction and consequently would make no more noise. But 
after Prince Obolensky's campaign, all this appeared to be 



inadequate. The whole business must be more strictly subor- 
dinated to the Ministry and to the officials directly carrying 
out its orders; the slightest possibility of exaggeration 
must be definitely removed. For that reason, the question 
as to which uyezds are "affected by the harvest failure" 
is from now on to be decided exclusively by the Ministry,* 
which apparently is to serve as the headquarters for the 
general staff for conducting military operations against the 
famine-stricken. Through the medium of the governors, these 
headquarters will direct the activities of the individuals 
(principally the uyezd marshals of the nobility) in whose 
hands the Central Uyezd Food Board is concentrated. The 
initiator of military operations against the famine-stricken, 
Prince Obolensky, was obliged to travel personally to the 
district in order to prohibit, restrain, and curtail. Now, 
everything is "regulated", and all that is necessary is an 
exchange of telegrams (possible, thanks to the grant of a 
thousand rubles per uyezd for office expenses) between the 
Central Uyezd Board and the St. Petersburg Central Board 
for the necessary "orders" to be given. Turgenev's civilised 
landlord not only kept away from the stables, but even gave 
orders in subdued tones to a liveried footman in white 
gloves: "See that Fyodor gets it...." 107 So it will be here 
now; "orders" will be given, "without clamour", nicely and 
quietly, to restrain the immoderate appetites of the starving 

The fact that Mr. Sipyagin is convinced that the appe- 
tite of the starving peasant is immoderate becomes evident, 

* The manner in which the Ministry decides this question can 
be judged from the example of Perm Gubernia. According to the lat- 
est press reports, this gubernia is still regarded as having "a good 
harvest", notwithstanding the fact that (according to the report of 
the extraordinary gubernia Zemstvo congress held on October 10) 
the harvest this year is even worse than the extremely poor harvest 
of 1898. The yield this year represents only 58 per cent of the average, 
and in the Shadrinsk and Irbit uyezds is only 36 per cent and 34 per 
cent respectively. In 1898 the government granted the gubernia (in 
addition to local grants) 1,500,000 poods of grain and over 250,000 ru- 
bles in money. Now, however, the Zemstvos have no funds, they are 
restricted in their powers, the harvest is far worse than that of 1898, 
the price of grain began to rise as from July 1, the peasants have be- 
gun selling their cattle — and the government persists in declaring that 
the gubernia has "a good harvest"!! 



not only from the persistent warnings in the circular against 
"exaggeration", but from the new regulations it lays down 
which remove all possibility of exaggeration. Do not be in 
a hurry to draw up the lists of the distressed, for this will 
arouse among the population "exaggerated hopes", the Min- 
ister states explicitly, and orders that the lists be drawn 
up only immediately before grain is to be distributed. Fur- 
thermore, the circular regards it as superfluous to determine 
when an uyezd should be considered a distressed area; but 
it distinctly states when an uyezd should not be considered a 
distressed area (e.g., when not more than one-third of the 
volosts are affected, when usual auxiliary employment is 
available, etc.). Finally, in regard to the rate of relief to be 
granted to the famine-stricken, the Minister introduces reg- 
ulations which show with extreme clarity that the govern- 
ment desires at all costs to cut down these grants to the very 
minimum, to mere doles that do nothing to secure the popu- 
lation against starvation. In point of fact, the quota is forty- 
eight poods of grain per family (calculated on the average 
yield of the harvest in each village), and those who possess 
that amount or more are not in need. How this figure was 
arrived at, no one knows. All that is known is that in non- 
famine years even the poorest peasant consumes twice as 
much grain (cf. Zemstvo Statistical Investigation of Peas- 
ants' Budgets). Consequently, undernourishment is con- 
sidered a normal state according to the Minister's prescript. 
But even this quota is reduced, first by half, in order to pre- 
vent the working elements, which represent about fifty per 
cent of the population, from obtaining loans, and then by 
one-third, one-fifth, and one-tenth, "in proportion to the 
approximate number of well-to-do farmers having stocks 
left over from last year, or any other [literally so: "or any 
other"!] material resources". One can judge from this what 
an insignificant fraction of the amount of grain actually 
required by the population will be represented by the loan 
the government intends to grant. And, as if rejoicing in his 
insolence, Mr. Sipyagin, in explaining this incredible system 
of curtailing relief, declares that such an approximate com- 
putation "has rarely been found to be greatly exaggerated". 
Comment is superfluous. 



Whenever official declarations of the Russian Govern- 
ment contain something more than bare instructions and 
make at least some attempt to explain them, they almost 
invariably — it is a kind of law more stable than the major- 
ity of our laws — advance two principal motives or rather 
two principal types of motives. On the one hand, we invar- 
iably find a number of general phrases, written in pompous 
style, about official solicitude and a desire to meet the require- 
ments of the time and the wishes of public opinion. Thus, 
reference is made to the "important task of averting a food 
shortage among the rural population", to the "moral re- 
sponsibility for the welfare of the local population", etc. 
It goes without saying that these commonplaces signify 
nothing and impose no definite obligation; but they are as 
alike as two peas to the immortal sermons delivered by the 
immortal Judas Golovlyov to the peasants he had robbed. 
Parenthetically it should be said, these commonplaces are 
constantly exploited (sometimes out of simple-mindedness 
and sometimes as a "duty") by the censored liberal press 
whereby to demonstrate that the government shares its point 
of view. 

But if the other, less general and less obviously hollow 
motives of the government's orders are examined more clos- 
ly, concrete statements will always be found which repeat 
in toto the established arguments of the most reactionary 
organs of our press (e.g., Moskovskiye Vedomosti). We are of 
the opinion that it would be well worth while (and quite 
possible even for those who work legally) to follow up and 
record every case of this solidarity between the government 
and Moskovskiye Vedomosti. In the circular under discus- 
sion, for example, we find a repetition of the vile accusations 
levelled by the terribly "wild landlords" to the effect 
that the premature compilation of lists of the distressed 
stimulates "efforts among certain well-to-do householders 
to give their farms an appearance of poverty by selling their 
supplies, reserves, and implements". The Minister states that 
this "has been proved by experience in the course of previous 
food campaigns". Consequently? Consequently, the Minister 
acquires his political experience from the lessons taught 
him by the most hidebound serf-owners, who raised such a 
clamour in previous famine years, who are clamouring now 



about the deceit of the peasants, and who are so indignant 
over the "noise" that is being raised about the epidemic 
of famine typhus. 

It was from these serf-owners also that Mr. Sipyagin 
learned to talk about demoralisation. "It is extremely impor- 
tant," he writes, "for ... the local institutions ... to help 
economise the allocated funds and, above all [sic!!], prevent 
the unjustified grants of government relief to persons who 
are materially secure, because of the harmful and demor- 
alising effect of such grants." This shameless instruction to 
help economise the funds is sealed by the following advice 
based on a point of principle: "...wide distribution of food 
grants to families that can dispense with them [that can 
subsist on twenty-four poods of grain a year per family?], 
apart from being an unproductive [!] expenditure of state 
funds, will be no less harmful from the standpoint of the 
benefits and requirements of the state than if those really 
in distress were left without proper aid." In bygone times, 
monarchs would in their sentimental moments say. "It 
is better to acquit ten criminals than to convict one inno- 
cent man"; but nowadays the right arm of the tsar declares: 
It is as harmful to give relief to families that can manage 
on twenty-four poods of grain a year as to leave families 
"really" in need without relief. What a pity that this magnif- 
icently candid "point of view" regarding "the benefits and 
requirements of the state" is obscured from the eyes of the 
general public by a lengthy and dull circular! One hope is 
left: perhaps the Social-Democratic press and Social-Demo- 
cratic oral agitation will enable the people to become more 
closely acquainted with the contents of the ministerial 

* * 

But the circular directs an especially vigorous "attack" 
upon private philanthropists. Everything indicates that 
the administrators, who are waging war against the famine- 
stricken, consider the most important "enemy" position to 
be private relief circles, private food-kitchens, etc. With 
laudable frankness Mr. Sipyagin explains why private phi- 
lanthropy has for a long time now given the Ministry of 
the Interior sleepless nights. "Beginning with the poor harvest 



of 1891 and 1892, and during all subsequent calamities 
of a similar kind," says the circular, "it has not infrequently 
been found that certain philanthropists, while rendering 
material aid to the inhabitants of the affected districts, 
strive to rouse among them discontent with the present 
system and encourage the people to make totally unjustified 
demands on the government. At the same time, the failure 
to meet the distress to the full, and the inevitable ailments 
and economic disorders that arise therefrom, create an ex- 
tremely favourable soil for anti-government agitation; 
politically unreliable persons freely take advantage of this 
and pursue their criminal aims under the cloak of helping 
their neighbour. Usually, as soon as the first news of a serious 
harvest failure is received, persons with a political past 
that is not irreproachable pour into the affected districts 
from all directions, strive to make contact with representa- 
tives of charitable organisations and institutions from the 
capital, who, through ignorance, engage those persons as 
local helpers and in this way create serious difficulties inim- 
ical to the interests of good order and administration." 

However, the Russian Government is becoming hard pressed 
in the land of Russia. Time was when only the student 
youth was considered as a stratum calling for special secu- 
rity measures. The students were subjected to the strictest 
surveillance, contact with them on the part of persons whose 
political past is not irreproachable was regarded as a great 
offence, every study circle and society, even if it pursued 
purely philanthropic aims, was suspected of anti-government 
aims, etc. In those times — not far in the past — there was 
no other stratum, to say nothing of a social class, that in 
the eyes of the government, represented "an extremely fa- 
vourable soil for anti-government agitation". But since 
the middle nineties, one meets in official government 
communications mention of another, immeasurably more 
numerous, social class that calls for special security mea- 
ures — the factory workers. The growth of the labour move- 
ment compelled the government to establish a full-fledged 
system of institutions to maintain surveillance over this 
new stormy element. Among the districts prohibited as 
places of residence for politically doubtful persons were 
included factory centres and settlements, uyezds and whole 



gubernias, in addition to the capitals and university 
cities.* Two-thirds of European Russia came under special 
protection against unreliable elements, while the remaining 
third is becoming so crowded with "persons whose political 
past is not irreproachable" that even the remotest province 
is becoming restless.** It now appears that according to 
the authoritative judgement of so competent a person as 
the Minister of the Interior even the remotest village repre- 
sents "favourable soil" for anti-government agitation, in- 
sofar as there occur in it cases of not fully relieved distress, 
of sickness, and of economic disorder. And are there many 
Russian villages in which such "cases" are not constant? 
And should not we Russian Social-Democrats immediately 
take advantage of Mr. Sipyagin's instructive reference to 
"favourable" soil? On the one hand, precisely at this moment, 
the rural districts are displaying interest in the rumours 
which at times have managed to penetrate to them in one 
way or another about the skirmishes that occurred between 
the government's gendarmes and the urban proletariat and 
the young intelligentsia in February and March. On the 
other hand, do not phrases like the peasant's "totally 
unjustified demands", etc., provide a sufficiently wide 
programme for the most extensive, all-round agitation? 

We must take advantage of Mr. Sipyagin's useful infor- 
mation and laugh at his simplicity. It is indeed the sheerest 
naivete to imagine that by placing private charity under 
the supervision and control of the governor he can hinder 
the spread of the influence of "unreliable" persons in the 
rural districts. Genuine philanthropists have never pursued 
political aims, so that the new measures of prohibition and 
restriction will mostly affect the very persons who are least 
dangerous to the government. Those, however, who desire to 

* See, for instance, the secret circular published in Iskra, No. 6, 
on the people banished from St. Petersburg, mostly writers, many 
of whom had never been involved in political affairs of any kind, let 
alone "labour" affairs. Nevertheless, they have been denied domicile, 
not only in university cities, but also in "factory localities", while 
for some the prohibition relates only to factory localities. 

** See, for example, the correspondence in Iskra, Nos. 6 and 7, 
in which it is reported that public unrest and aid to the peasants in 
despite of the government had penetrated even into such God-guarded 
cities as Penza, Simferopol, Kursk, etc. 



open the eyes of the peasants to the real significance of 
these measures, and to the government's attitude towards 
the famine, will not consider it necessary to establish con- 
tact with representatives of the Red Cross or present them- 
selves to the governors. Thus, when it was found that the 
factory environment represented "favourable soil", those 
who desired to establish contact with that environment 
did not visit the factory managers for information about 
factory conditions or present themselves to the factory in- 
spectors for permission to organise meetings with the work- 
ers. We are fully aware, of course, that it is extremely 
difficult to carry on political agitation among the peas- 
antry, the more so since it is impossible and irrational to 
withdraw revolutionary forces from the cities for that pur- 
pose. Yet we must not lose sight of the fact that the govern- 
ment's heroic deeds, such as restricting private charity, 
remove a good half of these difficulties and do half our work 
for us. 

* * 

We shall not dwell on the same Minister's circular call- 
ing for stricter surveillance over charitable concerts, 
theatrical performances, etc.; for that is a "mere bagatelle", 
as compared with the circular we have just examined (cf. 
article "Fresh Obstacles", Iskra, No. 9). 

We will endeavour to establish the relation that exists 
now between the government relief for the population, 
fixed and distributed according to the new regulations, 
and the actual extent of the distress. True, our information 
on this point is exceedingly scanty. The press now is 
thoroughly muzzled, the voices of private organisers of 
food-kitchens have been silenced simultaneously with the 
"prohibition" of their activities, and the only sources of 
information available to the Russian public, now struck 
dumb by the new stringent measures, are the official police 
reports on the favourable progress of the food campaign, 
the articles written in the same spirit in Moskovskiye 
Vedomosti, sometimes the interviews of an idle reporter with 
this or that Jack-in-office pompously expatiating on "His 
Excellency's singleness of mind and His Excellency's sin- 
gleness of authority, etc.". 108 Thus, Novoye Vremya, No. 9195, 



reports that the Governor of Saratov, A. P. Engelhardt 
(formerly Governor of Archangel), gave an interview to a 
representative of a local newspaper, in the course of which 
he said that he had personally convened in that locality 
a conference of marshals of the nobility, of representatives 
of the Zemstvo Boards, of the rural superintendents, and of 
representatives of the Red Cross, at which he had "distrib- 
uted tasks". 

"Scurvy, in the form I have seen it in Archangel Guber- 
nia, is not to be found here [said A. P. Engelhardt]. In 
Archangel, one cannot approach within five paces of a pa- 
tient; there the disease is really a form of 'rot'. Here we 
see mostly the effects of severe anaemia, which results 
from the awful conditions of domestic life. Almost the only 
symptoms of scurvy observed here are white lips and white 
gums.... With proper nutrition such patients recover within 
a week. Food is now being distributed. About one thousand 
rations are being distributed daily, although not more 
than four hundred cases of acute distress have been registered. 

"Besides scurvy, only three cases of typhus have been 
reported in the whole district. We may hope that things 
will not get worse, for everywhere public works have been 
organised and the population is assured of employment." 

What prosperity! In the whole of Khvalynsk Uyezd (to 
which the Jack-in-office refers) there are only four hundred 
persons in acute distress (in all probability the rest, in Mr. 
Sipyagin's and Mr. Engelhardt's opinion, "can manage 
well" on twenty-four poods of grain per family per annum!), 
the population is provided for, and the sick recover within 
a week. After this, how can we not believe Moskovskiye 
Vedomosti when, in a special leading article (in No. 258), 
it informs us that "according to the latest reports, in twelve 
gubernias affected by the harvest failure the administration 
is very actively organising relief. Many uyezds have already 
been investigated for the purpose of ascertaining whether 
there is a shortage of food; uyezd managers of food-affairs 
have been appointed, etc. Apparently, official representa- 
tives of the government are doing everything possible to 
render timely and adequate aid." 

"...very actively organising", and ... "not more than four 
hundred cases of acute distress have been registered".... 



In Khvalynsk Uyezd there are 165,000 rural inhabitants, 
and one thousand rations are being distributed. The yield 
of rye in the whole of the south-eastern area (including Sa- 
ratov Gubernia) this year was 34 per cent below average. 
Of the total area of peasant lands planted to crops in Saratov 
Gubernia (1,500,000 dessiatines), 15 per cent suffered a 
complete failure of the harvest (according to the report of 
the gubernia Zemstvo Board) and 75 per cent suffered a 
poor harvest, while Khvalynsk and Kamyshin uyezds are 
the two worst affected uyezds in the gubernia. Consequent- 
ly, the total amount of grain gathered in by the peasants 
in Khvalynsk Uyezd is at least 30 per cent below average. 
Let us assume that half of this shortage affects the well-to-do 
peasantry, which is not yet reduced thereby to starvation 
(a very risky assumption, since the well-to-do peasant pos- 
sesses better land and cultivates it better, so that he always 
suffers less from a bad harvest than do the poor peasants). 
But even on this assumption, the number of the starving 
must be something like 15 per cent, or about 25,000. Yet 
we are offered the consolation that scurvy in Khvalynsk 
is not nearly so bad as it is in Archangel, that there were 
only three cases of typhus (if only they would lie more clev- 
erly!), and that one thousand rations are being distrib- 
uted (the size of which is in all probability determined 
by Sipyagin's system of combating exaggerations). 

With respect to the "subsidiary earnings", which, to avoid 
exaggeration, Mr. Sipyagin thrice takes into account in his 
circular (once, when he orders that uyezds in which subsid- 
iary earnings are usual shall not be regarded as affected 
areas; a second time when he orders that the forty-eight 
poods scale be reduced by half because 50 per cent of the 
working population "must" be earning wages; and a third 
time when he orders this scale to be further reduced by 
amounts ranging from one-third to one-tenth according to 
local conditions) — with respect to these subsidiary earnings, 
not only agricultural but even non-agricultural earnings have 
diminished in Saratov Gubernia. "The harvest failure," we 
read in the above-mentioned Zemstvo Board report, "has also 
affected the handicraftsmen, due to the drop in the sales of 
their manufactures. Owing to these circumstances, a crisis 
is observed in the uyezds in which handicrafts are most highly 



developed." Among these is Kamyshin Uyezd, which has 
suffered most, and in which many thousands of poor people 
are engaged in weaving the celebrated local striped calico 
(sarpinka). Even in normal years conditions in the handi- 
craft industry of this remote rural district were woeful; six- 
and seven-year-old children, for example, were employed 
at a wage of seven or eight kopeks a day. We can picture to 
ourselves what conditions are like there in a year of severe 
harvest failure and acute crisis in the handicraft industry. 

In Saratov Gubernia (and in all affected gubernias, of 
course), the poor grain harvest is accompanied also by a 
shortage of fodder. The past few months (i.e., in the second 
half of the summer!) have seen the spread of various cattle 
diseases and an increase in cattle mortality. "According to 
a report of the veterinary surgeon in Khvalynsk Uyezd 
[we quote from the newspaper that contained the above- 
mentioned Zemstvo Board report], an examination of the 
contents of the stomachs of the dead cattle revealed nothing 
but earth." 

The "Report of the Zemstvo Department of the Ministry 
of the Interior" on the progress of the food campaign con- 
tained, incidentally, the statement that of the uyezds recog- 
nised as affected areas "in Khvalynsk alone a number of 
cases of epidemic scurvy have been discovered in two vil- 
lages since July. The local medical staff is exerting all its 
efforts to stop the epidemic and two Red Cross detachments 
have been sent to the district to assist the local forces. Ac- 
cording to the report of the governor [the very A. P. Engel- 
hardt, whose acquaintance we have made], their efforts 
are meeting with considerable success; according to reports 
received by the Ministry up to September 12, in none of 
the other affected uyezds were there any cases of acute dis- 
tress left without relief, and no development of disease as a 
consequence of inadequate nutrition is observed." 

To show what confidence may be placed in the statement 
that no cases of acute distress were left unrelieved (were 
there cases of chronic distress?) and that the development 
of disease is not observed, we shall confine ourselves to com- 
paring data on two other gubernias. 

In Ufa Gubernia, Menzelinsk and Belebeyev uyezds 
were declared to be affected areas, and the Zemstvo Depart- 



ment of the Ministry of the Interior reports that "according 
to the governor's statement" the amount of the government 
grant required "specifically for food" is 800,000 poods. 
However, a special meeting of the Ufa Gubernia Zemstvo 
Assembly held on August 27 to discuss the question of 
rendering relief to the famine-stricken estimated food 
requirements of those uyezds at 2,200,000 poods of grain, 
1,000,000 poods for the other uyezds, not including grants of 
seed-grain (3,200,000 poods for the entire gubernia) and cat- 
tle fodder (600,000 poods). Consequently, the Ministry fixed 
the grant at one-fourth the amount fixed by the Zemstvo. 

Another instance. In Vyatka Gubernia none of the uyezds 
was declared affected areas at the time when the Zemstvo 
department issued its report; nevertheless, the food grant 
was fixed by that body at 782,000 poods. This is the figure 
which, by press reports, was fixed by the Vyatka Gubernia 
Food Department at its meeting of August 28 (in accord- 
ance with the decisions of the Uyezd Assemblies held be- 
tween August 18 and 25). Approximately on August 12, 
these very Assemblies had fixed a different amount for the 
grant, viz., 1,100,000 poods for food and 1,400,000 poods 
for seed. Why this difference? What happened between Au- 
gust 12 and 28? The answer is, Sipyagin's circular of August 
17 on fighting the famine-stricken had been published. Con- 
sequently, the circular had an immediate effect, and the 
trifling amount of 230,000 poods of grain was struck out of 
the estimate, drawn up, mark you, by the Uyezd Assemblies, 
i.e., by the very institutions which, by the law of June 12, 
1900, were established in place of the unreliable Zemstvos, 
institutions composed of officials generally and of rural 
superintendents in particular.... Shall we really live to see 
the day when even the rural superintendents will be ac- 
cused of liberalism? Perhaps we shall. Recently we read in 
Moskovskiye Vedomosti the following reprimand inflicted 
on a certain Mr. Om., who, in Priazovsky Krai 109 had dared 
to propose that the newspapers publish the minutes of the 
meetings of the Gubernia Boards for Urban Affairs (since 
press representatives were not permitted to attend them): 

"The purpose is all too transparent: the Russian civil 
servant frequently suffers from a fear of appearing illiberal, 
and publicity may compel him, at times even against his 



own conscience, to support some fantastically liberal 
scheme proposed by the city or the Zemstvo. By no means 
an altogether false calculation." 

Should not the Vyatka rural superintendents, who (ap- 
parently out of fear of appearing illiberal) have revealed 
such unpardonable frivolity in "exaggerating" the food 
crisis, be placed under special surveillance?* 

Incidentally, if the wise Russian Government had not 
withdrawn from it jurisdiction over food affairs, the "fan- 
tastically liberal" Vyatka Zemstvo would have gone even 
further in its estimate of the distress. At all events, the 
Special Gubernia Conference, held from August 30 to Sep- 
tember 2, declared the amount of grain harvested to be 17 
per cent, and the amount of cattle fodder 15 per cent, below 

* Another instance of the manner in which the Governor of 
Vyatka combats exaggerations: 

"In an 'announcement' sent out to the Volost Boards the Gover- 
nor of Vyatka records a very cautious attitude on the part of the 
peasants towards food grants from the government and the Zemstvo. 
'During my tour of the gubernia,' writes Mr. Klingenberg, 'I saw 
for myself with what deliberation and caution the peasants act in the 
present circumstances. They hesitate to contract debts except under 
pressure of extreme necessity and are firmly resolved to wait patiently 
for God's help in the year to come, striving by their own efforts to 
extricate themselves from their difficult condition.' Hence, the 
Governor of Vyatka expresses the conviction that 'the peaceful and 
sensible inhabitants of Vyatka Gubernia will not allow themselves 
to be disturbed by rumours about free government and Zemstvo aid 
and about the annulment of debts and arrears, or by exaggerated re- 
ports of the failure of the harvest'. The Governor deems it his duty to 
warn the peasants that 'if a check of the grants shows that household- 
ers, even with no reserve stocks, have gathered in sufficient corn this 
year to feed themselves and their families and to sow their fields, but 
have sold their corn and utilised the proceeds for other purposes, such 
householders must not count on obtaining a loan. According to the 
new law, the loans granted will be recoverable, not on the basis 
of collective liability, 110 but in accordance with the regulations 
governing the collection of taxes. Consequently, every householder 
who applies for and receives a loan must bear in mind that he and 
he alone will be responsible for repayment, that no one will help 
him, that repayment will be strictly enforced, and that if he falls 
into arrears all his movable property may be sold and his real estate 

We can well imagine how the local volost authorities treat starv- 
ing peasants who have fallen into arrears and demand a loan after 
such a statement by the Governor! 



subsistence needs. The amount absolutely essential is 
105,000,000 poods (the amount harvested in an ordinary 
year being 134,000,000; in this year, 84,000,000 poods). 
There is, therefore, a shortage of 21 million poods. "The 
total number of volosts in the gubernia suffering from a 
shortage of grain this year is 158 out of 310. The population of 
these volosts numbers 1,566,000 persons of both sexes." 
Yes, undoubtedly, "the administration is very actively or- 
ganising" — minimising the real extent of the distress and 
reducing the work of relieving the starving to a kind of 
acrobatics of cheese-paring philanthropy. 

In fact, the term "acrobats of philanthropy" would be 
too flattering a name for the administrators who have ral- 
lied under the banner of the Sipyagin circular. What they 
have in common with acrobats of philanthropy is the paltry 
nature of the relief they render and their attempts to blow 
it up into something bigger than it is. But the acrobats of 
philanthropy at worst regard the people upon whom they 
bestow their charity as playthings that pleasantly tickle 
their vanity, whereas the Sipyagin administrators regard 
their beneficiaries as enemies, as people that make illegal 
demands ("totally unjustified demands on the government") 
and that must therefore be held in restraint. This point 
of view was expressed most strikingly in the remarkable 
Provisional Regulations, which were accorded royal sanc- 
tion on September 15, 1901. 

These regulations represent in the full sense a law, which 
consists of twenty articles and contains so much that is 
remarkable that we would not hesitate to designate it as 
one of the most important legislative acts of the early twen- 
tieth century. To begin with the title: "Provisional Regu- 
lations Governing the Participation of the Population in 
the Famine-Affected Areas in the Works Undertaken by 
Order of the Departments of Railways, Agriculture, and 
State Property." Evidently these works are so chock-full 
of benefits that to be allowed to "participate" in them must 
be regarded as a special act of grace, otherwise the first 
clause of the new law would not state: "Rural inhabitants 
of localities affected by the famine shall be allowed to 
participate in the carrying out of the works projects", 



But the law provides for these "privileges" only in its 
second half, while in the first it deals with the organisation 
of the whole business. The competent authorities "deter- 
mine the most suitable works projects to be undertaken" 
(Article 2), which "shall be carried out in conformity with 
the provision in the law" (Article 3, which, like the chapter 
headings in some Dickensian novel, may be entitled: "The 
clause of the new law, which tells of the necessity of acting 
in accordance with the old law"). The public works are to be 
launched on budget estimates, or on special credits, and the 
general supervision of the organisation of these works is vested 
in the Minister of the Interior, who may appoint officials 
with special powers and who arranges a special "Conference 
on Food Affairs" with representatives of various ministries 
participating under the chairmanship of the Deputy Minis- 
ter. The functions of this body include: (a) granting permis- 
sion for departures from the existing regulations; (b) dis- 
cussing proposals for the allocation of funds; (c) "fixing the 
maximum remuneration to be paid to workmen, as well as 
establishing the other conditions under which the popula- 
tion may be permitted to participate in the aforesaid works; 
(d) distributing the work crews to the locations of the proj- 
ects; and, (e) organising the transport of the crews to the 
works locations". The decisions of the Conference must be 
sanctioned by the Minister of the Interior, as well as, "in 
corresponding cases", by the ministers of other departments. 
The function of determining the works projects, and of as- 
certaining the number of residents in need of work, is vested 
in the rural superintendents, who must report the informa- 
tion to the governors, who, in turn, communicate the 
information with their opinions to the Ministry of the 
Interior and "on its instructions arrange, through the rural 
superintendents, for the dispatch of workers to the works 

Ugh! At last we have mastered the "organisation" of this 
new business! The question now arises how much lubrica- 
tion will be required to set all the wheels of this ponderous, 
purely Russian administrative monster in motion. Try to 
imagine this thing concretely. Only the rural superintend- 
ent comes in direct contact with the famine-stricken. 
He therefore must take the initiative. He sends a communi- 



ation — to whom? To the governor, says an article of the 
Provisional Regulations of September 15. But in accordance 
with the circular of August 17, a special Central Uyezd 
Food Board has been established, whose function is "to 
concentrate the management of all food affairs in the uyezd 
in the hands of a single official" (under the circular of Au- 
gust 17 the uyezd marshal of the nobility should preferably 
be appointed to that post). A "dispute" arises, which, of 
course, is quickly settled on the basis of the remarkably 
clear and simple "principles" outlined in the six points of 
Article 175 of the General Gubernia Regulations which pre- 
scribes "the order for settling disputes ... between public 
departments and officials". In the end the document finds 
its way somehow into the office of the governor, where 
someone undertakes to draft an "opinion". Following which, 
everything goes to St. Petersburg, there to be examined by 
the special Conference. But the representative of the Min- 
istry of Railways to the Conference is unable to decide on 
the expediency of such a public works project as road re- 
pairs in Buguruslan Uyezd, and so another document trav- 
els from St. Petersburg to the gubernia and back again. 
When, finally, the expediency of the works, etc., etc., is 
decided on in principle, the Conference in St. Petersburg 
will then set about "distributing the work crews" between 
Buzuluk and Buguruslan uyezds. 

How shall this unwieldy machine be explained? By the 
novelty of the thing? Not at all. Before the Provisional 
Regulations of September 15 were introduced, public works 
could be organised ever so much more simply "on the basis 
of the existing laws", and the circular of August 17, which 
refers to the public works organised by the Zemstvos, the 
Guardians of the poor, and the gubernia authorities, makes 
no reference to the necessity for any kind of special organi- 
sation. You see, therefore, that the government's "food 
campaign" consists in the fact that the St. Petersburg de- 
partments spend a whole month (from August 17 to Sep- 
tember 15) thinking and thinking, and finally produce 
a hopelessly tangled skein of red tape. We may be sure, 
however, that the St. Petersburg Conference stands in no 
danger of making exaggerations, as do the local bureaucrats 
who "fear to appear illiberal".... 



But the prize exhibit of the new Provisional Regulations 
is the prescript concerning the "rural inhabitants" hired 
for the works projects. When work is to be carried out "away 
from their place of residence", the workers must first of all 
form themselves into a special artel, "under the supervision 
of the rural superintendent", who endorses the appointment 
of the artel overseer responsible for maintaining order; 
secondly, the names of the workmen joining such an artel 
must be entered in a special list which "is to serve as a 
substitute for the ordinary legally established residence 
permits of the workmen thereon listed during their transfer 
to, and stay at, their place of work, and which must remain 
in the possession of the official accompanying the workmen 
on their journey, or, in his absence, in the possession of the 
artel overseer, and on arrival at the destination must be 
placed in charge of the works manager". 

Why is it necessary to substitute a special list for the 
ordinary passports, which every peasant who desires to 
travel has a right to receive gratis? This is clearly a restric- 
tion imposed upon the workmen, since, if they remained 
in possession of their passports, they would have more free- 
dom in selecting a room, in spending their free time, or in 
changing one job for another, if they found it more remuner- 
ative or convenient to do so. We shall see below that this 
was done deliberately, not only out of love for red tape, 
but specifically in order to impose restrictions upon the 
workmen and make their conditions approximate those 
of gangs of transported serfs accompanied by an "inven- 
tory" of a kind. 111 It appears that the function of "main- 
taining order on the journey, and the delivery [sic!] of the 
work crew to the public works manager is vested in an official 
commissioned for the purpose by the Ministry of the In- 
terior". The farther into it we get, the more complicated it 
becomes. The substitution of lists for passports leads to 
the substitution of freedom of movement by — "consignment 
of work crews". What have we here? Gangs of convicts being 
transported to penal servitude? Have all the laws permitting 
the peasant in possession of a passport to travel wherever and 
however he pleases been repealed— perhaps as a punishment 
for "exaggerating" the famine? Is conveyance at government 
expense a sufficient reason for depriving a citizen of his rights? 



To continue. It appears that the persons in charge of dis- 
tributing the workmen and of paying their wages, as well 
as the other officials of the department supervising the exe- 
cution of the works projects, "on the instructions of the 
gubernia authorities in the district where the families of the 
workmen reside, dock the wages earned, wherever possible, 
and send the deducted amount to their home locations for the 
maintenance of the workmen's families". A further depriva- 
tion of rights. How dare the officials deduct part of the wages 
earned by the workers? How dare they interfere in the work- 
men's family affairs and decide for them, as if they were serfs, 
whom they are to maintain and how much they are to con- 
tribute to that end? Would workmen permit their wages to 
be docked without their consent? Apparently, this question 
entered the heads of those who drafted the new "penal 
servitude regulations", because the clause immediately follow- 
ing the one quoted above says: "The preservation of order 
among the workmen in the works locations is entrusted, 
by decision of the Minister of the Interior, to the local rural 
superintendents, to the officers of the special corps of gen- 
darmerie, to the police officials, or to persons specially 
appointed for that purpose." It is clear that the peasants are 
to be punished by deprivation of their rights for "exaggerat- 
ing" the famine and for their "totally unjustified demands 
on the government"! It is not enough that the ordinary 
police, the factory police, and the secret police keep the 
Russian workers in general under surveillance; these regu- 
lations prescribe the establishment of a special surveillance. 
One might think the government has completely lost its 
head out of fear of these work crews of hungry peasants, 
freighted, transported, and delivered with a thousand pre- 

We read further: "Workers guilty of disturbing the pub- 
lic peace and quiet, deliberately shirking their work, or 
refusing to carry out the lawful demands of the works 
managers or those appointed for the purpose of preserving 
order, are liable, on the order of the officials mentioned 
in Article 16 [referred to above] to be placed under arrest 
for three days without trial; for persistent refusal to work 
they may, on the orders of the said officials, be transported 
under escort to their permanent place of residence." 



After this, can the Provisional Regulations of September 
15 be called anything but provisional penal servitude regula- 
tions? Punishment without trial, deportation under escort.... 
The ignorance and wretchedness of the Russian peasant 
is very great indeed, but there is a limit to everything. 
For this constant starvation and the steady banishment 
of workers from the towns to the country cannot but have 
their effect. And our government, which is so fond of govern- 
ing by means of provisional regulations* will one day 
receive a very severe shock. 

The Provisional Regulations of September 15 must serve 
us as a means for wide agitation in workers' study circles 
and among the peasantry; we must distribute copies of these 
regulations with leaflets explaining them; we must call 
meetings and read this law to the audience, explain its mean- 
ing in connection with the government's "food" policy as 
a whole. We must see to it that every worker, who is in the 
least class-conscious and who goes to the village, shall 
thoroughly understand the meaning of the "provisional penal 
servitude regulations" and be able to explain to all whom he 
meets what the regulations are about and what must be 
done to gain deliverance from the penal servitude of star- 
vation, tyranny, and lack of rights. 

Let these provisional regulations governing workers' 
artels serve as a standing reproach and a serious warning 
to the soulful Russian intellectuals who advocate the estab- 
lishment of various kinds of artels and similar legal socie- 
ties permitted or encouraged by the government — a reproach 
for that naivete with which they believed in the sincerity of 
the government's permission or encouragement, without 
perceiving the base serf character that was concealed behind 
the signboard of "the furtherance of people's labour", etc. 
A warning — when they speak in the future of artels and 
other societies permitted by the Sipyagins, never to forget 
to tell the whole truth about the workers' artels established 

* It is an old adage that any fool can govern under a state of 
siege. In Europe, it may be necessary to declare a state of siege from 
time to time, but in Russia a state of siege is always in force, supple- 
mented, now here, now there, by provisional regulations. Are not all 
political affairs in Russia conducted according to provisional regu- 



in accordance with the provisional regulations of Septem- 
ber 15, and if they dare not talk about such artels, to remain 
entirely silent. 


While we are faced with a fresh outbreak of famine, the 
old and protracted commercial and industrial crisis, which 
still drags on, has thrown on to the streets tens of thousands 
of workers unable to find employment. Distress is very 
great among these workers, and all the more revealing is 
the fact that both the government and educated "society" 
adopt an attitude towards the distress of the workers that 
is entirely different from their attitude towards the distress 
of the peasants. The public institutions and the press make 
no effort to determine the number of workers in distress, 
or the degree of that distress, even to the extent to which 
this is done in the case of the peasants. No systematic meas- 
ures are adopted to organise aid for the starving work- 

Why this difference? It is, in our opinion, least of all 
because the distress among the workers is less apparent, 
or reveals itself in less acute forms. True, the city dwellers 
who do not belong to the working class know very little 
about the conditions of the factory workers, that they live 
now even more congested in cellars, attics, and hovels, that 
they are more undernourished than ever before and are pawn- 
ing their last sticks and rags. True, the increasing number 
of tramps and beggars, who frequent doss-houses and fill 
the prisons and hospitals, do not attract any particular 
attention, because, well, "everyone" is accustomed to the 
idea that doss-houses and dens of hopeless wretchedness are 
always packed in large cities. True, unlike the peasants, 
unemployed workers are not tied down to a single place, 
and either of their own accord roam the country in quest of 
employment or are banished to "their native places" by 
authorities afraid of concentrations of large numbers of unem- 
ployed workers. Nevertheless, anyone who has any contact 
at all with industrial life knows from experience, and any- 
one who interests himself in public affairs knows from the 
newspapers, that unemployment is steadily increasing. 



No, the reasons for this difference in attitude lie much 
deeper; they are to be sought in the fact that famine in the 
rural districts and unemployment in the towns belong 
to two altogether different types of economic life and are 
due to altogether different relations between the exploiting 
and the exploited classes. In the rural districts, the rela- 
tions between these two classes are extremely confused and 
complicated by a multiplicity of transitional forms, as, for 
example, when farming is combined with usury, or with 
the exploitation of hired labour, etc., etc. It is not the ag- 
ricultural hired labourer — the antagonism of whose inter- 
ests to the interests of the landlord and wealthy peasant 
is clearly apparent and is largely understood by the la- 
bourer himself — who is starving, but the small peasant, who 
is usually regarded (and regards himself) as an independent 
farmer, who only now and again falls accidentally into some 
"temporary" dependence. The immediate cause of the famine — 
the failure of the harvest — is spontaneous in the eyes of the 
masses, it is the will of God. And as poor harvests accompa- 
nied by famine have occurred from time immemorial, 
legislation has long been compelled to reckon with them. 
For years codes upon codes of laws have existed (princi- 
pally on paper) providing for the distribution of food among 
the people and prescribing an involved system of "meas- 
ures". Although these measures, borrowed largely from 
the period of serfdom and the period of prevailing patriar- 
chal, self-sufficing economy, correspond very little to the 
requirements of modern times, every famine sets in motion 
the whole government and Zemstvo administrative ma- 
chine. And, however greatly the powers that be may desire 
it, this machine finds it difficult, almost impossible, to 
avoid resorting to all manner of aid from the hated "third 
persons", the intellectuals, who are striving to "raise a 
clamour". On the other hand, the connection of the famine 
with the poor harvest, together with the wretched state of 
the peasants, who do not understand (or but vaguely un- 
derstand) that it is the increasing exploitation of capital 
in conjunction with the predatory policy of the govern- 
ment and of the landlords which has reduced them 
to this ruinous condition, has caused the famine-stricken 
to feel so absolutely helpless that, far from putting for- 



ward exacting demands, they put forward no "demands" 
at all. 

The less conscious the oppressed class is of its oppres- 
sion and the less exacting it is in its demands upon its op- 
pressors, the larger the number of individuals among the 
propertied classes who will be inclined towards philan- 
thropy, and the less, relatively, will resistance be offered 
to this philanthropy by the local landlords, who are direct- 
ly interested in keeping the peasants in a state of poverty. 
If this indisputable fact is borne in mind, it will be clear 
that the increased opposition of the landlords, the loud 
cries raised about the "demoralisation" of the peasants, 
and, finally, the purely military measures against the 
famine-stricken and against the benefactors, adopted by a 
government actuated by such a spirit, are symptoms of 
the complete decline and decay of that ancient, sup- 
posedly immutable and time-hallowed, patriarchal rural 
life over which the ardent Slavophils, the reactionaries 
most conscious of their aim, and the most naive of the 
old-fashioned Narodniks, wax so enthusiastic. The Narod- 
niks have always accused us Social-Democrats of artificial- 
ly applying the concept of the class struggle to conditions 
which do not admit of its application, while the reaction- 
aries have always accused us of sowing class hatred and 
of inciting "one section of the population against another". 
Without reiterating the answer to these charges, which has 
been given time and time again, we shall state merely that 
the Russian Government excels us all in the judgement of 
the profundity of the class struggle, and in the energetic 
force of the measures that must logically follow from such 
a judgement. Every one who has in one way or another come 
in contact with people who in famine years have gone to 
the village to "feed" the peasants — and who has not come 
in contact with them? — knows that they were prompted 
by pure sentiments of pity and humane sympathy, and 
that "political" plans of any kind were totally alien to 
them; that the propaganda of the ideas of the class struggle 
left such people cold, and that the arguments of the Marx- 
ists in heated battles against the views of the Narodniks 
on the village left them unconvinced. What has the class 



struggle to do with it? they said; the peasants are starving 
and we must help them — that is all. 

But those who could not be convinced by the arguments 
of the Marxists may perhaps be convinced by the "argu- 
ments" of the Minister of the Interior. No, it is not simply 
that "the peasants are starving", he warns the philanthro- 
pists, and they must not "simply" go to help the peasants 
without the permission of the authorities, for that spreads 
demoralisation and stimulates unjustifiable demands. To 
interfere in the food campaign means to interfere in the 
plans of God and the police to provide the landlords with 
workmen willing to work for next to nothing, and the Treas- 
ury with taxes collected by force. He who ponders over 
Sipyagin's circular must say to himself — Yes, social war is 
going on in our countryside, and, as in all wars, the bellig- 
erents cannot be denied their right to inspect the cargoes 
of vessels sailing to enemy ports, even if the vessels sail 
under neutral flags. The only difference between this and 
other wars is that in this case one side, obliged perpetually 
to work and perpetually to starve, is not even fighting, it 
is only being fought — for the present. 

In factory industry, however, it has long been evident that 
this war is being carried on, and there is no need for govern- 
ment circulars to explain to the "neutral" philanthropists 
that it is unwise to ford the river without first sounding 
its depth (that is, without first obtaining the permission 
of the authorities and the factory owners). As early as 
1885, when there was as yet no noticeable socialist agita- 
tion amongst the workers, even in the central gubernias, 
where the workers are closer to the peasantry than are the 
workers in the capital, the industrial crisis caused the 
factory atmosphere to become so electrically charged that 
storms broke out continuously, now in one place and now in 
another. Under such circumstances, philanthropy is doomed 
to impotence from the outset and for that reason remains 
a casual and purely individual affair, without acquiring 
even a shadow of social significance. 

We shall note yet one other peculiar feature in the atti- 
tude of the public towards famines. It may be said without 
exaggeration that until very recently the opinion pre- 
vailed that the whole of the Russian economic, and even 



political, system rested upon the mass of independent land- 
owning peasant farmers. The extent to which this opinion 
had penetrated the minds of even the most advanced 
thinking people, least susceptible to the wiles of official 
flattery, was strikingly illustrated by Nikolai — on in his 
work published after the famine of 1891-92 112 . The ruin 
of an enormous number of peasant farms seemed to every 
one to be so absurd, to be such an impossible leap into the 
void, that the necessity to extend the widest possible aid 
that would effectively "heal the wounds" was almost gener- 
ally recognised. And again it was none other than Mr. Si- 
pyagin who undertook the task of dispelling the last shreds 
of illusion. What does "Russia" rest upon, what do the 
landowners and the commercial and industrial classes 
live on, if not on the ruination and impoverishment of the 
people? To attempt to heal this "wound" otherwise than on 
paper — why, that would be a political crime! 

Mr. Sipyagin will, without doubt, contribute to the dis- 
semination and the confirmation of the truth that there 
neither is nor can be any other means of combating unem- 
ployment and crises, as well as the Asiatic-barbarian and cruel 
forms the expropriation of the small producers has assumed 
in Russia, than the class struggle of the revolutionary pro- 
letariat against the entire capitalist system. The rulers 
of the capitalist state are no more concerned about the 
vast numbers of famine and crisis victims than a locomo- 
tive is concerned about those whom it crushes in its path. 
Dead bodies stop the wheels, the locomotive halts, it may 
(with a too energetic driver) jump the rails, but, in any case, 
after a delay, long or short, it will continue on its way. 
We hear of death from starvation, and of the ruin of tens 
and hundreds of thousands of small farmers, but, at the 
same time, we hear accounts of the progress of agriculture 
in our country, of the acquisition of foreign markets by 
the Russian landlords, who have sent an expedition of Rus- 
sian farmers to England; we hear of increased sales of im- 
proved implements and of the extension of cultivated grass- 
land, etc. For the masters of Russian agriculture (as well 
as for all capitalist masters), intensified ruination and star- 
vation are nothing more than a slight and temporary hitch, 
to which they pay almost no attention whatever, unless 



compelled by the famine-stricken. Everything goes on as 
usual — even speculation in the sale of lands belonging to 
the section of the proprietors which consists of the well- 
to-do peasantry. 

Thus, Buguruslan Uyezd, Samara Gubernia, has been 
declared an "affected area". This means that famine and 
the ruination of the mass of the peasantry have reached 
the highest point. But the misfortune of the masses does 
not hinder, but on the contrary appears to facilitate, the 
consolidation of the economic position of the bourgeois 
minority of the peasantry. In the September correspondence 
of Russkiye Vedomosti 113 (No. 244) we read the follow- 
ing concerning the uyezd referred to: 

"Buguruslan Uyezd, Samara Gubernia. The most impor- 
tant subject of discussion in this uyezd is the rapid rise 
in the price of land everywhere and the enormous specu- 
lation in land as a result. Only some fifteen or twenty 
years ago, excellent valley land could be bought at from ten 
to fifteen rubles per dessiatine. There were districts remote 
from the railway where, only three years ago, thirty-five 
rubles per dessiatine was regarded as a high price, and 
only on one occasion was as much as sixty rubles per dessia- 
tine paid for first-rate land, with an excellent farm-house, 
situated near a market. Now, however, from fifty to sixty 
rubles per dessiatine is paid for the poorest land, while the 
price of good land has risen as high as eighty and even one 
hundred rubles per dessiatine. The speculation caused by 
this rise in land prices assumes two forms: First, the pur- 
chase of land for the purpose of immediate resale (there 
have been instances in which land was bought at forty ru- 
bles per dessiatine and resold within a year to the local 
peasants at fifty-five rubles). In such cases usually the land- 
lords, not having either the time or the desire to bother 
with all the red tape and the formalities of selling the 
land to the peasants through the Peasant Bank, sell to the 
capitalist land speculators, who in their turn resell to the 
selfsame local peasants. In the second form, numerous 
land agents are engaged in foisting upon peasants from 
remote provinces (mostly from the Ukraine) all kinds of 
worthless land for which they obtain handsome commissions 
from the owners (from one to two rubles per dessiatine), 



From what has been said, it should be clear that the main 
victim of this land speculation is the peasant, whose land 
hunger serves as the basis for this unimaginable and, by 
economic causes unexplainable, jump in the price of land. 
Of course, the building of railways has had something to 
do with this, but not a great deal, for the principal buyer 
of land in our country remains the peasant, who by no 
means regards the railway as a factor of prime importance." 

These tenacious "enterprising muzhiks", who so greedily 
invest their "savings" (and their plunder) in the purchase 
of land, will inevitably cause the ruin of even those poor peas- 
ants who have still managed to survive the present famine. 

While bourgeois society resorts to land-purchasing schemes 
for the well-to-do peasant as a means of counteracting 
the ruination and starvation of the poor peasants, the 
search for new markets is resorted to as a means of coun- 
teracting crises and the glutting of the markets with the 
products of industry. The servile press (Novoye Vremya, 
No. 9188) waxes enthusiastic over the successes of the new 
trade with Persia and discusses glowingly the prospects of 
commerce with Central Asia and, particularly, with Man- 
churia. The iron magnates and other industrial leaders rub 
their hands in glee when they hear of proposals for further 
railway expansion. It has been decided to build the follow- 
ing major lines: St. Petersburg-Vyatka, Bologoye-Sedlets, 
Orenburg-Tashkent; the government has guaranteed a rail- 
way loan of 37,000,000 rubles (to the Moscow-Kazan, Lodz, 
and South-Eastern Railway companies); and other lines 
are planned: Moscow-Kyshtym, Kamyshin-Astrakhan and 
Black Sea lines. The starving peasants and unemployed 
workers may console themselves with the thought that the 
state money (if the state can raise it) will not, of course, 
be spent "unproductively" on famine relief (see Sipyagin's 
circular), but will be poured into the pockets of engineers 
and contractors, like those virtuosi in the art of embezzle- 
ment who year by year stole large sums during the construc- 
tion of the Sormovo Dam, and who were only recently 
convicted (by way of exception) by the Moscow Assizes 114 
in Nizhni-Novgorod.* 

* Unfortunately, lack of space prevents us from dealing in de- 
tail with this trial, which has demonstrated once again how the con- 




The term "third element" or "third persons" was employed, 
if we are not mistaken, by the Vice-Governor of Samara, 
Mr. Kondoidi, in his speech at the opening of the Samara 
Gubernia Zemstvo Assembly in 1900, to designate persons 
"belonging neither to the administration nor to the represent- 
atives of the social-estates". The increase in the numbers 
and in the influence of such persons serving in the Zemstvo 
as doctors, technicians, statisticians, agronomists, teachers, 
etc., has long since attracted the attention of our reaction- 
aries, who have also described these hated "third persons" 
as the "Zemstvo bureaucracy". 

Generally speaking, it must be said that our reaction- 
aries (including, of course, the entire top bureaucracy) 
reveal a fine political instinct. They are so well-experienced 
in combating oppositions, popular "revolts", religious sects, 
rebellions, and revolutionaries, that they are always on the 
qui vive and understand far better than naive simpletons and 
"honest fogies" that the autocracy can never reconcile itself 
to self-reliance, honesty, independent convictions, and pride 
in real knowledge of any kind whatsoever. So thoroughly im- 
bued are they with the spirit of subservience and red tape 

tractors and engineers run the show. For us Russians this is an old 
story that is perennially new. Engineer Alexandrov, in company 
with Shnakenburg, head of the Nizhni-Novgorod branch of the Kazan 
region of the Ministry of Railways, and the six contractors who were 
brought to trial, during a period of three years (1893-95), had "built" 
for themselves and others thousands of rubles by presenting to the 
Treasury accounts, certificates, vouchers, etc., etc., for work never 
done and for supplies never delivered. Not only the jobs, but even the 
contractors, were fictitious; an ordinary clerk signed as a contractor! 
The amounts this fraternity pocketed can be seen from the following: 
Engineer Alexandrov submitted bills (from the "contractors" who 
found themselves in the dock) for a sum of over 200,000 rubles; in 
these accounts, for example, the sum of 4,400 rubles appeared instead 
of the actually expended sum of 400 rubles. According to the evi- 
dence of one of the witnesses, Engineer Alexandrov squandered large 
sums of money either on women or on his immediate superiors, the 
railway engineers, spending as much as from fifty to eighty rubles 
for a single dinner. 

Most interesting of all, however, is the manner in which this 
case was handled and how it ended. The chief of police, to whom a de- 
tective reported the matter, "refused to take it up" (!). "This is not 



that prevails in the hierarchy of Russian officialdom that 
they have contempt for any one who is unlike Gogol's Akaky 
Akakiyevich, 115 or, to use a more contemporary simile, 
the Man in a Case 116 . 

Indeed, if men in public office are to be judged, not by the 
positions they hold, but by their knowledge and their merits, 
will it not logically and inevitably lead to the creation of 
freedom of public opinion and public control to judge such 
knowledge and such merits? Will it not undermine the 
privileges of estate and rank upon which alone the Russian 
autocracy rests? Let us but listen to the arguments Kondoidi 
advances to justify his displeasure: 

"Representatives of the social-estates, sometimes without 
adequately proven grounds, give ear to the words of intel- 
lectuals, even if the latter are nothing more than salaried 
civil servants, merely because they talk about science or 
quote something they have learned from newspaper or 
magazine writers". Well, well! Mere "salaried civil servants" 
daring to teach "representatives of the social-estates"! In 

our affair," he said, "it is the business of the Ministry of Railways," 
and the detective had to appeal to the public prosecutor. In the end 
the whole thing came to light because the thieves fell out: Alexand- 
rov "refused to split" with one of the clerk-contractors. The case 
dragged on for six years. Some of the witnesses died in the meantime 
and many of them managed to forget the most important points in the 
case. A material witness like Lokhtin, ex-chief of the Kazan region 
of the Ministry of Railways, could not be found (sic\): according to 
one version he was in Kazan, according to another in Yeniseisk on 
business! This is not a joke, reader — it is taken from the trial record. 

The fact that others were implicated, in addition to those brought 
to trial, is apparent from the following: First, the commendable de- 
tective who brought the case to light is no longer in the service; 
he has purchased a tenement house, and is now living on the in- 
come from it. Secondly, Engineer Makarov, chief of the Kazan Region 
of the Ministry of Railways (who during the construction of the Sor- 
movo Dam acted as assistant chief), tried his utmost at the trial to 
shield Alexandrov. He even declared— literally!— that "it was per- 
fectly in order" for the dam to have been washed away in the spring 
of 1894. When he examined Alexandrov's books, he found everything 
in perfect order: Alexandrov was distinguished for his experience, 
zeal, and accuracy! 

The result: Alexandrov — one year's confinement in a fortress; 
Shnakenburg — a severe reprimand (from which he was absolved by 
the Manifesto of 1896!). The rest were acquitted. The Treasury's 
claim was disallowed. One can imagine how pleased the unlocated 
Lokhtins and the Makarovs still in the service must be. 



passing, it should be said that the Zemstvo councillors, 
to whom the Vice-Governor referred, are members of a non- 
estate institution; but since every institution in our country 
is thoroughly saturated with the social-estate spirit, and since 
the Zemstvos, too, have lost the greater part of their non- 
estate character in consequence of the new regulations, it 
can be said, for the sake of brevity, that in Russia there are 
two governing "classes": (1) the administration, and (2) the 
representatives of the social-estates. There is no room for a 
third element in a monarchy resting on the social-estates. 
And if unsubmissive economic development persistently 
undermines the foundations of the estates by the very growth 
of capitalism and gives rise to the need for "intellectuals", 
who are becoming increasingly numerous, then it must be 
expected that the third element will strive to break out 
of its narrow confines. 

"The dreams of those belonging neither to the adminis- 
tration nor to the representatives of the social-estates in the 
Zemstvo," said Mr. Kondoidi, "are pure fantasy, but if these 
dreams have as their basis political tendencies, they may 
be harmful." 

To admit the possibility of "political tendencies" is merely 
a diplomatic way of admitting their existence. The "dreams" 
referred to here are, if you will, all assumptions that for 
the doctor stem from the interests of the medical profession 
and for the statistician, from the interests of statistics, and 
that do not take into consideration the interests of the 
governing estates. In themselves, these dreams are fantasy, 
but, if you please, they foster political discontent. 

We shall now relate the attempt of another administra- 
tor, the head of one of the central gubernias, to advance 
a different argument for displeasure with the third element. 
According to this official, the activities of the Zemstvo 
in the gubernia in his charge "are year by year departing from 
the principles upon which the Ordinance on Zemstvo Insti- 
tutions 117 is based". According to these regulations, the local 
inhabitants are empowered to manage affairs dealing with 
local needs and requirements. Owing to the indifference 
which the majority of landowners display towards the right 
granted them, "the Zemstvo Assemblies have become a mere 
formality and affairs are conducted by the Zemstvo Boards, 



the character of which leaves much to be desired". This "has 
led to a big increase in the staffs of many Boards and to the 
practice of enlisting in the Zemstvo the services of experts — 
statisticians, agronomists, teachers, sanitary inspectors, 
etc., who, conscious of their educational, and sometimes 
intellectual, superiority over the members of the Zemstvo, 
have begun to display increasing independence , which, in 
particular, is achieved by convening all kinds of congresses 
in the gubernia and by setting up all kinds of councils in the 
Boards. As a result, the whole of the Zemstvo administration 
has fallen into the hands of persons who have nothing in 
common with the local population." Although "there are 
among these persons many who are well-intentioned and are 
worthy of the utmost respect, they cannot regard their serv- 
ices as anything else than a means of livelihood, and they 
are interested in local needs and requirements only to the 
extent that their personal welfare depends upon these". 

In the opinion of the governor, "in Zemstvo affairs, the hired 
man cannot take the place of the property-owner" . This argu- 
ment may be described as more cunning or more candid than 
the one mentioned above, depending on how one looks 
at it. It is more cunning because it makes no mention of 
political tendencies, but tries to base its reasoning exclu- 
sively on the interests of local needs and requirements. It is 
more candid because it openly contrasts the "hired man" to 
the property -owner. This is the time-honoured point of view 
of the Russian Kit Kitych, 118 who, in hiring a "mere teacher", 
is guided principally by the market price of this particular 
form of professional service. The real master of everything 
is the property-owner, proclaims the representative of the 
camp from which praises are constantly heard of Russia and 
its strong and absolutely independent authority which is 
above all the classes and which, thank God, is free from the 
domination of selfish interests over public life that prevails 
in Western countries corrupted by parliamentarianism. And 
since the property-owner is the master, he must be master 
also of medical, statistical, and educational "affairs"; 
our Jack-in-office does not hesitate to draw this conclusion, 
which is the open recognition of the political leadership of 
the propertied classes. What is more curious, he does not hesi- 
tate to admit that these "experts" are conscious of their 



educational, and sometimes intellectual, superiority over the 
members of the Zemstvo. Of course, what other measures 
can be taken against intellectual superiority than measures 
of severity?... 

Recently, our reactionary press was presented with an 
excellent opportunity to repeat the demand for these meas- 
ures of severity. The refusal of the intellectuals to be treated 
as ordinary hired men, as sellers of labour-power (rather 
than as citizens fulfilling definite public functions), has led 
from time to time to conflicts between the bigwigs of the 
Zemstvo Boards and the doctors who would resign in a body, 
or to conflicts with the technicians, etc. Recently the strug- 
gles between the Boards and the statisticians have assumed 
an outright epidemic character. 

In the May issue of Iskra (No. 4), it was reported that the 
local authorities in Yaroslavl had long been dissatisfied with 
their statisticians and, after the events in St. Petersburg in 
March, made a thorough "cleansing" of the statistical bureau, 
with instructions to the manager "in the future to engage 
students with extreme caution and with an assurance of their 
reliability beyond the shadow of a doubt". An article, enti- 
tled "Sedition in Vladimir-on-Klyazma" (Iskra for June, 
No. 5), described the general condition of the suspected 
statisticians, and the reasons for the dislike exhibited 
towards them by the Governor, the manufacturers, and the 
landlords. The dismissal of the Vladimir statisticians for 
having telegraphed a message of sympathy to Annensky (who 
had been assaulted on Kazan Square on March 4) led practi- 
cally to the closing-down of the statistical bureau, and as 
statisticians from other towns refused to serve in a Zemstvo 
that was unable to protect the interests of its employees, the 
local gendarmerie was obliged to act as mediator between 
the dismissed statisticians and the governor. "A gendarme 
visited several of the statisticians at their homes and sug- 
gested to them that they submit a request for reinstatement"; 
but his mission was a complete failure. Finally, the August 
issue of Iskra (No. 7) reported an "incident in the Yekateri- 
noslav Zemstvo" in which "pasha" Rodzyanko (chairman of 
the Gubernia Zemstvo Board) had dismissed statisticians for 
failing to carry out the "order" to keep a diary, which action 
led to the resignation of all the other members of the bureau, 



as well as to letters of protest from the Kharkov statisticians 
(published in the came issue of Iskra). Complications then 
began to set in. The Kharkov pasha, Mr. Gordeyenko (also 
chairman of the gubernia Zemstvo Board), intervened and 
declared to the statisticians of "his" Zemstvo that he "will 
not tolerate within the walls of the Board any meetings 
of employees called to discuss questions that do not concern 
their duties". The Kharkov statisticians had barely carried 
out their intention of demanding the dismissal of the spy in 
their midst (Antonovich), when the administration dis- 
missed the manager of the statistical bureau, which again 
led to the resignation of all the statisticians. 

The excitement caused by these events among the mass 
of Zemstvo statistical department employees can be judged 
by the letter written by the Vyatka statisticians, who sought 
to give a detailed reason for refusing to join the movement, 
for which they were justly described in Iskra (No. 9) as the 
"Vyatka strike-breakers". 

Iskra, of course, reported only some of the conflicts, by 
far not all, that took place; the legal press reported such 
conflicts also in the gubernias of St. Petersburg, Olonets, 
Nizhni-Novgorod, Taurida, and Samara (we include in the 
category of conflicts cases in which a number of statisticians 
are dismissed simultaneously, since such cases roused con- 
siderable discontent and ferment). The lengths to which the 
suspicious and shameless provincial authorities went can be 
judged from the following: 

"S. M. Bleklov, manager of the Taurida Bureau, in his 
'Report on the Investigation of Dnieper Uyezd During May 
and June 1901', which he submitted to the Board, relates 
that work in the uyezd was carried on under hitherto unprec- 
edented conditions. Although the statisticians had the 
governor's consent to the undertaking of their duties, were 
furnished with the necessary documents, and in accordance 
with the orders of the gubernia officials were entitled to the 
assistance of the local authorities, they were nonetheless 
surrounded with extreme suspicion on the part of the uyezd 
police, who dogged their steps and expressed their distrust of 
them in the rudest manner, so much so that, as one peasant 
related, a policeman rode behind the statisticians and ques- 
tioned the peasants as to whether 'the statisticians were not 



carrying on the propaganda of harmful ideas against the 
state and the fatherland'. According to Mr. Bleklov, the stat- 
isticians 'encountered various obstacles and difficulties 
which not only hindered their work, but deeply outraged 
their sense of personal dignity.... Frequently, the statisti- 
cians found themselves in the position of persons charged with 
a crime, concerning whom secret investigations were being 
made, which were known, by the by, to everybody — per- 
sons against whom it was considered necessary to warn 
all and sundry. The unbearable moral depression 
which they frequently suffered can therefore be well un- 

Not a bad illustration for the record of the Zemstvo-uer- 
sws-statistician conflicts and for the description of the sur- 
veillance over the "third element" in general! 

Small wonder that the reactionary press rushed in to at- 
tack the new "rebels". Moskovskiye Vedomosti published 
a thunderous leading article, entitled "The Strike of the 
Zemstvo Statisticians" (September 24, No. 263), and a spe- 
cial article by N. A. Znamensky, entitled "The Third Ele- 
ment" (October 10, No. 279). "The third element is rearing 
its head too high," writes the paper; it is resorting to "sys- 
tematic opposition and strikes", in order to resist the attempts 
to introduce "necessary discipline in the service". The blame 
for all this rests upon the Zemstvo liberals, who have demor- 
alised the employees. 

"There is not the slightest doubt that measures have 
been taken to introduce a degree of order in statistics and 
in the work of assessing by the more sober and sensible of the 
Zemstvo leaders, who refused to permit the Boards in their 
charge to be demoralised by anyone, even under the flag of 
liberal opposition. The opposition and the strikes should at 
last open their eyes to the character of the people they have 
to deal with in the persons of the intellectual proletarians, 
roaming as they did from one gubernia to another, engaging, 
who knows, in statistical investigations, or in educating 
the local adolescents in the Social-Democratic spirit. 

"At all events, the 'Zemstvo-uersws-statistician conflicts' 
will bring home a useful lesson to the more sensible 
section of the Zemstvo people. We think they will now see 
clearly that in the person of the 'third element' they 



have nurtured a viper in the bosom of the Zemstvo insti- 

We, too, have no doubt that the howling and whining 
of the faithful watchdog of the autocracy (the appellation, 
as is known, which Katkov, who for so long succeeded in 
keeping Moskovskiye Vedomosti charged with his spirit, as- 
sumed for himself) will "open the eyes" of many who do not 
yet fully understand how irreconcilable autocracy is to the 
interests of social development, to the interests of the intel- 
ligentsia generally, and to the interests of every genuine pub- 
lic cause which does not stand for embezzling state funds 
and for treachery. 

This little picture of the anti-"third element" crusade and 
the "Zemstvo-uersws-statistician conflicts" should teach us 
Social-Democrats an important lesson. It must strengthen our 
faith in the might of the labour movement we lead; for we 
see that unrest in the foremost revolutionary class is spread- 
ing to other classes and other strata of society, that it has 
already led, not only to the rousing of the revolutionary 
spirit among the students to a degree hitherto unparalleled,** 
but to the beginning of the awakening of the countryside, 
to greater self-confidence and readiness to struggle on the 
part of social groups that have until now (as groups) not been 
very responsive. 

Public unrest is growing among the entire people in Rus- 
sia, among all classes, and it is our duty as revolutionary 
Social-Democrats to exert every effort to take advantage of 
this development, in order to explain to the progressive 
working-class intellectuals what an ally they have in the 
peasants, in the students, and in the intellectuals generally, 
and to teach them how to take advantage of the flashes of 
social protest that break out, now in one place, now in anoth- 
er. We shall be able to assume our role of front-rank fighters 

* Moskovskiye Vedomosti, No. 263. 
**As these lines are written, news comes of fresh and greater 
unrest among the students, of meetings in Kiev, St. Petersburg, and 
other cities, of the formation of revolutionary students' groups in 
Odessa, etc. Perhaps history will impose upon the students the role 
of initiators in the decisive struggle. Be that as it may, if victory 
is to be achieved in this struggle, the masses of the proletariat must 
be roused and we must accelerate our efforts to make them class- 
conscious, to inspire and organise them. 



for freedom only when the working class, led by a militant 
revolutionary party, while never for a moment forgetting 
its special condition in modern society and its specific histor- 
ic task of liberating humanity from economic enslavement, 
will raise the banner in the struggle for freedom for the whole 
people and will rally to this banner all those of the most 
varied social strata whom the Sipyagins, Kondoidis, and the 
rest of the gang are so wilfully forcing into the ranks of the 

What is necessary now in order to achieve this is that we 
infuse into our movement, not only the consistent revolu- 
tionary theory elaborated in the course of a century-long 
development of European thought, but also the revolution- 
ary energy and revolutionary experience bequeathed to us 
by our West-European and Russian precursors, and that we 
do not fall into slavish adoption of the opportunism in its 
various forms from which our Western comrades — who have 
not been affected by it to such an extent — are turning 
away, but which is such a strong hindrance to us in our 
march to victory. 

The Russian proletariat, at the present time, is confront- 
ed by the most difficult, but extremely gratifying, task: 
to crush the enemy, whom the long-suffering Russian intel- 
ligentsia has been unable to overcome, and to assume its 
place in the ranks of the international army of socialism. 


"It is a sadly significant fact, entirely without precedent; 
and many unexampled misfortunes are held in store for 
Russia by such facts, which are possible only because of our 
far-advanced social demoralisation...." Thus wrote Mos- 
kovskiye Vedomosti, in the leading article of No. 268 (Sep- 
tember 29), commenting on a speech delivered by M. A. Sta- 
khovich, Marshal of the Nobility of Orel Gubernia, at a missi- 
onary congress held in that gubernia (the congress closed 
on September 24).... Well, if "social demoralisation" has 
affected the marshals of the nobility, the foremost men in 
the uyezd and the second in importance in the gubernia, 
where indeed must we seek for the end of this "pestilential, 
spiritual canker that has seized upon Russia"? 



What is the issue? The issue is that this Mr. Stakhovich 
(the very gentleman who wished to find posts for the Orel 
nobility as liquor excise collectors; see "Casual Notes", 
Zarya, No. 1*) delivered a fiery speech in defence of freedom 
of conscience and was "tactless, not to say cynical, enough 
to suggest the following":** 

"It is the duty of the missionary congress more than of any 
other body in Russia to proclaim the necessity of freedom of 
conscience, the necessity to abolish all penalties for seceding 
from the Orthodox Church and accepting another faith. 
And I would suggest that the Orel missionary congress openly 
express itself in this sense and present such a petition in 
suitable manner..." 

Of course, Moskovskiye Vedomosti was naive enough to 
picture Mr. Stakhovich as a Robespierre ("that oh, so gay 
M. A. Stakhovich, whom I have long known, a Robespierre!" 
wrote Mr. Suvorin in Novoye Vremya, and it was difficult 
to read his speech "for the defence" without smiling), as it 
was naive of Mr. Stakhovich to suggest to the priests that 
they petition "in suitable manner" for freedom of conscience. 
It was like suggesting to a congress of police officers that they 
petition for political freedom! 

There is hardly need to add that "the convocation of 
the clergy, presided over by the highest priest", rejected 

*See present edition, Vol. 4, pp. 383-413.— Ed. 
** Moskovskiye Vedomosti, September 29, No. 268. I apologise 
to the reader for betraying such a predilection for Moskovskiye Vedo- 
mosti. But what can one do? In my opinion, it is the most interesting, 
the most consistent, and the most serviceable political newspaper in 
Russia. One can hardly term "political" literature, in the proper 
sense of the word, that which at best simply makes a selection of some 
interesting, though raw, facts and then offers sighs instead of "wis- 
dom": I do not say that such writing cannot be very useful, but it is not 
politics. Nor can the Novoye Vremya type of literature be described 
as political literature in the real sense of the word, notwithstand- 
ing (or rather because of) the fact that it is excessively political. It 
has no definite political programme and no convictions, it merely 
possesses the ability to adapt its tone to the moods of the moment, 
to cringe before the powers that be and carry out their every order, 
and to flirt with an illusion of public opinion. Moskovskiye Vedomosti, 
however, has its own line and does not fear (it has nothing to fear) 
to march ahead of the government, and to touch upon, at times very 
frankly, the most delicate subjects. It is a useful newspaper, and in- 
dispensable helpmate in revolutionary agitation! 



Mr. Stakhovich's suggestion "both on account of the contents 
of the speech and of its non-accordance with the tasks of the 
local missionary congress", after hearing the "weighty ob- 
jections" of His Grace, the Bishop Nikanor of Orel; of N. I. 
Ivanovsky, Professor of the Kazan Academy of Divinity; 
of V. M. Skvortsov, editor and publisher of the periodical 
Missionerskoye Obozreniye 119 ; of V. A. Ternavtsev and 
M. A. Novosyolov, members of the university staff; and of 
several missionary priests. One might say: An alliance of 
"science" and the church! 

Of course, Mr. Stakhovich interests us, not as a model 
of clear and consistent political thinking, but as a model 
of the most "oh, so gay" Russian nobleman, who is always 
ready to grab a slice of the state pie. And one can imagine 
to what extent "demoralisation" has penetrated Russian life 
generally and the life of our rural districts in particular as 
a result of police tyranny and the inquisitorial persecution 
of religious sects, if the very stones cry out, if even marshals 
of the nobility have begun to talk strongly about freedom 
of conscience. 

The following instances from Mr. Stakhovich's speech give 
a striking picture of the outrageous state of affairs that 
rouses even the most "oh, so gay" to indignation: 

"Go to the library of the missionary brotherhood, and 
take down the handbook of laws. There you will read in 
Article 783, Volume II, Part I, that it is the duty of the ru- 
ral chief of police, in addition to preventing duelling, lam- 
pooning, drunkenness, hunting in the close season, and men 
and women washing together in public baths, to keep obser- 
vation over the arguments directed against the dogmas 
of the Orthodox Church and to prevent the seduction of the 
orthodox to other faiths and schisms!" Yes! There is actually 
such an article in the Act, and it imposes many more such 
functions upon the rural police chief besides those enumerat- 
ed by the speaker. The majority of city dwellers would look 
upon this article as a curiosity, as, indeed, Mr. Stakhovich 
designated it; but for the peasant this curiosity conceals a 
bitterer Ernst, the bitter truth about the outrages commit- 
ted by the lower ranks of the police, who are only too firmly 
convinced that God is very high up and the tsar very far 



And now some concrete instances that we shall cite to- 
gether with the official denial made by the President of the 
Council of the Orel Orthodox Brotherhood of Peter and Paul 
and of the Orel Diocesan Missionary Congress, Archpriest 
Peter Rozhdestvensky (Moskovskiye Vedomosti, No. 269, 
reprinted from Orlovsky Vestnik, 120 No. 257): 
"(a) In the speech [by Mr. Stakhovich] reference is made to 
a village in Trubchevsk Uyezd: 

"'With the knowledge and consent of the priest and of the 
officials, the suspected Stundists 121 were locked in the church, 
a table was brought, a white cloth was spread over it, an icon 
was upon it, and each was led separately to the table and 
commanded to kiss the icon. 

"'"J refuse to kiss idols." 

"'"So! Flog him on the spotl" 

"'The weaker ones returned to the orthodox faith after 
the first flogging. But there were some who were flogged 
four times.' 

"According to the official data presented in the report of the 
Orel Orthodox Brotherhood of Peter and Paul, published as 
far back as 1896, and according to the verbal information 
given at the congress by Father D. Pereverzev, the described 
acts of violence inflicted by the orthodox population upon the 
sectarians of the village of Lyubets in Trubchevsk Uyezd took 
place following a decision adopted at the village meeting and 
somewhere in the village, but certainly not with the consent of 
the local priest and on no account in the church; this regret- 
table incident took place eighteen or nineteen years ago, 
long before the Orel Diocesan Mission was even thought of." 

Commenting on the above, Moskovskiye Vedomosti states 
that Mr. Stakhovich cited only two facts in his speech. 
Perhaps so. But what facts they were! The refutation based 
on "official data" (of the rural police) and on the report 
of the Orthodox Brotherhood but emphasises the shocking 
character of the outrages which roused the indignation of 
even an "oh, so gay" nobleman. Whether the flogging took 
place "somewhere in the village" or in the church, six months 
or eighteen years ago, does not alter the case in the least 
(except perhaps in the one respect that, by general knowl- 
edge, the persecution of sects has become even more brutal 
of late and that the establishment of missions is directly 



related to this fact). As to the local priest's having had 
nothing to do with the inquisitors in rustic garb* — better 
had you kept quiet about it in the press, Reverend Father; 
you will only be a laughing-stock. Of course, the "local 
priest" did not give his "consent" to torture, a punishable act 
under the Criminal Code, any more than the Holy Inquisition 
punished its victims with its own hands. It handed them over 
to the secular authorities; nor did it ever shed blood, it only 
had its victims burned. 
The second fact: 

"(b) It was stated in the speech: 

'"In that case the priest will never again be able to give 
the answer we heard him give here: "Yow say, Father, there 
were forty families and now there are only four. What has be- 
come of the rest?" 

"'"By the grace of God they have been banished to Trans- 
caucasia and to Siberia."^ 

"Actually, in the village of Glybochka, Trubchevsk Uyezd, 
which is the village concerned in this case, there were in 
1898, according to the report of the Brotherhood, not forty 
Stundist families, but forty persons of both sexes, including 
twenty-one children. In that year only seven persons were 
banished to Transcaucasia by order of the regional court as 
a penalty for proselytising to the Stundist faith. As for the 
expression of the local priest, 'banished by the grace of God\ 
it was a casual remark dropped at a closed session of the con- 
gress during a free exchange of opinion among the delegates, 
the more so, since the priest in question was previously known 
to every one, and at the congress proved himself to be a most 
worthy missionary priest." 

Such a refutation is truly priceless! Casually dropped dur- 
ing a free exchange of opinion! This is precisely what makes 
it interesting, for we know only too well the real value of 
the official utterances of official persons. And if the priest, 

* In his rejoinder to the official denial, Mr. Stakhovich wrote: 
"I do not know what the official report of the Brotherhood contains, 
but Father Pereverzev related the details of this incident at the con- 
gress and stated that the civil authorities knew of the decision of the 
village meeting [sic!!]. ... I asked him personally whether the 
priest knew and he answered, "Yes, he knew too." Comment is 



who uttered these words "straight from the heart", is "a most 
worthy missionary priest", the more significant are these 
words for that very reason. "By the grace of God, banished 
to Transcaucasia and to Siberia." These magnificent words 
should become no less famous than Metropolitan Philaret's 
defence of serfdom with the help of Holy Writ. 

Since we have mentioned Philaret, it would be unfair 
not to mention the letter addressed by a "learned liberal" 
to His Grace Ambrosius, Archbishop of Kharkov, and pub- 
lished in the magazine Vera i Razum 122 for 1901.* The author 
of the letter signed himself: Jeronim Preobrazhensky, hon- 
orary citizen, formerly a member of the clergy. It was the 
editor who described him as the "learned [!] liberal", no doubt 
because he was overawed by his "well of wisdom". We shall 
cite only a few passages from the letter, which again reveals 
the fact that political thought and political protest penetrate 
by unseen ways into wider circles than we sometimes imagine. 

"I am already an old man, nearly sixty. During my lifetime I have 
observed not a few departures from the fulfilment of church duties, and 
I must say conscientiously that in every case the clergy was to blame. 
As for 'the latest events', I think we should fervently thank the clergy 
of our day for opening the eyes of many. Now not only volost clerks 
but young and old, educated and uneducated and even those barely 
able to read will strive to read the writings of the great Russian au- 
thor. People pay high prices to get his books (published abroad by Svob- 
odnoye Slovo, 123 and freely obtainable in all countries of the world 
except Russia); they read them, discuss them, and finally come to con- 
clusions that are, of course, not favourable to the clergy. The people 
are now beginning to understand where truth and where falsehood lies; 
they see that the clergy say one thing and do another, and that often 
even their words are contradictory. Much that is true might be said, 
but unfortunately one cannot speak frankly with the clergy; they 
would immediately report to the authorities and demand punishment 
and execution.... But Christ did not attract converts by force and by 
executions, but by justice and love.... 

"... In concluding your speech, you write: 'We possess a great force 
for the struggle — that is the autocratic power of our most devout 
sovereigns.' Again a subterfuge, and again we refuse to believe you. 
Although you, the enlightened clergy, strive to assure us that you 

* We take this opportunity to thank the correspondent who sent 
us the reprints from the magazine. Our ruling classes very often are 
not ashamed to expose themselves au naturel in prison, church, and 
similar special publications. It is high time we revolutionaries system- 
atically utilised this "rich treasure-house" of political enlighten- 



'imbibed loyalty to the autocrat with your mother's milk' (from 
the speech of the present vicar, delivered at the time of his consecra- 
tion as bishop), we, the unenlightened, refuse to believe that a 
year-old infant (even a future bishop) could reason about the 
form of government and give preference to autocracy. After the 
abortive attempt of Patriarch Nikon to play in Russia the role 
of the Popes of Rome, who in Western countries combined within 
themselves spiritual and temporal power, our church, through its 
highest representatives, the metropolitans, has wholly and for ever 
subjected itself to the power of the sovereigns, who sometimes, as was 
the case with Peter the Great, despotically imposed their will upon 
the church. (The pressure Peter the Great brought to bear upon the cler- 
gy in the condemnation of Tsarevich Alexei.) In the nineteenth century, 
we see complete harmony between the secular and ecclesiastical author- 
ities in Russia. In the stern epoch of Nicholas I, when, influenced by 
the great social movements in the West, social consciousness began to 
awaken in Russia and here, too, individual champions arose to fight 
against the outrageous enslavement of the common people, our church 
remained completely indifferent to the popular sufferings, and despite 
Christ's great commandment of human brotherhood and brotherly 
love, not a single voice was raised among the clergy in defence of the 
dispossessed people, against the cruel tyranny of the landlords; and the 
only reason for this was that the government did not yet dare to 
lay its hand upon serfdom, the existence of which Philaret of Moscow 
openly sought to justify with biblical texts from the Old Testament. 
Then came the storm: Russia was defeated and politically degraded at 
Sevastopol. The defeat clearly exposed all the defects of our pre-Reform* 
system, and before all else our young, humane sovereign (who owes 
the education of his mind and spirit to the poet Zhukovsky) broke 
the ancient chains of slavery; but, by the irony of fate, the test of the 
great act of February 19 was submitted for revision from the Chris- 
tian point of view to the selfsame Philaret, who apparently hastened 
to change his views regarding serfdom to suit the spirit of our times. 
The epoch of the great reforms left its mark also upon our clergy, which, 
under Makarius (afterwards Metropolitan) carried on the fruitful work 
of reorganising our ecclesiastical institutions in which they hacked 
a window (even if a small one) into the world of light and publicity. 
The period of reaction, which set in after March 1, 1881, enabled an 
element of leadership corresponding to the manner of Pobedonostsev 
and Katkov to penetrate into the clergy; and while the progressive 
people of the country in the Zemstvos and in society are presenting 
petitions for the abolition of the survivals of corporal punishment, 
the church remains silent and utters not a word in condemnation of 
those who defend the rod — that atrocious instrument for the degra- 
dation of human beings created in the image of God. After all this, 
would it be unjust to suppose in the event of changes in the regime from 
above that our clergy, through its representatives, would praise a con- 
stitutional monarch just as it now lauds the autocratic monarch? 
Why then the hypocrisy? Strength lies, not in the autocracy, but in 

* Prior to the Peasant Reform of 1861.— Tr. 



the monarch. Peter I was also a heaven-sent autocrat, but the church 
to this day does not favour him, and Peter III was a similar autocrat 
who wanted to shear and educate our clergy — what a pity he was not 
allowed to reign for two or three years! And if the present reigning 
autocrat, Nicholas II, decided to express his kindly feelings for the 
famous Lev Nikolayevich,* where would you then run to hide with 
your snares, your fears, and your threats? 

"In vain you quote texts of the prayers which the clergy sends 
up for the tsar; this jumble of words in an incomprehensible jargon 
convinces no one. We live under an autocracy: if ordered to do so, 
you will write prayers thrice as long and even more expressive". 

* * 

The second marshal's speech, as far as we know, was 
not published in our press. A hectographed copy, sent to us 
by an unknown correspondent last August, bore the following 
pencilled inscription: "Speech delivered by an uyezd mar- 
shal of the nobility at a private meeting of marshals called 
to discuss student affairs." We give the speech in full: 

"For lack of time I shall express my views on this meeting of mar- 
shals of the nobility in the form of theses: 

"The cause of the present disorders is known approximately: 
They are called forth, first, by the disordered state of our entire govern- 
mental system, by the oligarchic regime of the bureaucratic corporate 
body, i.e., by the dictatorship of the bureaucrats. 

"This state of disorder in the bureaucratic governmental dictator- 
ship reveals itself throughout the whole of Russian society, from top 
to bottom, in the form of general discontent that finds its outward 
expression in the general politicalism, a politicalism that is not tem- 
porary or superficial, but profound and chronic. 

"This politicalism, the common disease of the whole of society, 
permeates all its manifestations, its functions and institutions, and 
for that reason necessarily the educational institutions, with their 
younger, more impressionable public, which is oppressed by the same 
regime of the bureaucratic dictatorship. 

"It is recognised that the root evil of student disorders lies in the 
general disorganisation of the state and in the general disease result- 
ing from this condition; however, in view of the spontaneous sentiments 
and of the necessity for checking the development of the local evil, 
the disorders cannot be ignored and efforts must be made at least 
from this side to diminish the frightfully destructive manifestations 
of the general evil in the same way as, when the whole organism 
is diseased and is in need of prolonged and radical treatment, it is 
necessary to take urgent measures to suppress local, acute, and 
destructive complications of the disease. 

*Lev Tolstoi. — TV. 



"In the secondary and higher educational establishments, the evil 
of the bureaucratic regime finds expression principally in the substi- 
tution of human (youthful) development and education by bureau- 
cratic training, which is combined with the systematic suppression 
of human individuality and dignity. 

"The distrust, indignation, and anger against the officials and the 
teachers roused among the youth by all these manifestations are 
being transferred from the high schools to the universities, where, 
unfortunately, the universities being what they are at present, the 
youth encounters the same evils and the same suppression of human 
individuality and dignity. 

"In a word, for the youth, the universities are not temples of learn- 
ing, but factories for converting the impersonal student masses into 
the bureaucratic commodity required by the state. 

"This suppression of human individuality (in the process of con- 
verting the students into an impersonal, pliable mass), which reveals 
itself in the form of a systematic and chronic suppression and perse- 
cution of all personality and dignity, frequently in the form of brutal 
violence, lies at the base of all student disorders that have erupted 
for several decades and threaten to continue with greater intensity 
in the future, carrying off the best of Russia's youth. 

"All this we know — but what are we to do in the present situation? 
How can we help the present acute situation with all its bitterness, 
with all its misery and sorrow? Give up all efforts? Abandon our youth 
to the mercy of fate, to the bureaucrats, and to the police, without 
attempting to help them — wash our hands of the whole thing and walk 
off? This, to my mind, is the main issue, namely, what can we 
do to assuage the acute manifestation of this disease, now that we 
recognise its general character? 

"Our meeting reminds me of a crowd of well-intentioned people 
who have entered a wild forest for the purpose of clearing it, and 
who stand in utter amazement at the enormity of the general task, 
instead of concentrating on any one special point. 

"Professor K. T. has presented to us a striking general picture of 
the true state of affairs today in the universities and among the 
students, pointing out the various harmful influences from the 
outside, not only political, but even police influences, upon the 
unstable students; but we knew all this before, more or less, albeit 
not so clearly as we know now. 

"He suggested a radical change in the whole of the educational 
system and its substitution by a better system as the only possible 
measure to adopt, but the professor remarked that this would proba- 
bly require considerable time; and if we bear in mind that every partic- 
ular system in the Russian state, as in every other state, forms an 
organic part of the system as a whole, then perhaps the end of that 
time is not foreseeable. 

"But what must we do now in order at least to assuage the unbear- 
able pain caused by the disease at the present time? What palliative 
can we adopt? Even palliatives that temporarily soothe the patient 
are frequently recognised as necessary. This is a question we have not 
answered. Instead of a reply, we have heard vague, wavering opinions 



as regards the student youth in general, which, I might say, obscure 
the question even more. It is even difficult to recall those judgements, 
but I will endeavour to do so. 

"Something was said about girl students: We gave them courses 
and lectures, and see how they thank us — by taking part in student 

"Now, had we presented bouquets or costly ornaments to the fair 
sex, such a reproach would be conceivable; to organise lecture courses 
for women, however, is not a favour, but the satisfaction of a social 
need. Women's lecture courses are not a caprice, but as much a social- 
ly necessary educational institution as are the universities for the 
higher development of the youth of both sexes. That is why full social 
and comradely solidarity exists between the male and female educa- 
tional institutions. 

"This solidarity, to my view, likewise fully explains the fact that 
the unrest among the student youth has also spread among the stu- 
dents in women's educational institutions. All the students are in 
a state of unrest, irrespective of attire, male or female. 

"Someone else then spoke about the student unrest, saying that 
we must not be indulgent with the students, that their outrages must 
be halted by force. To this, in my opinion, the rational objection was 
made that even if the conduct of the students can be set down as out- 
rageous, these are not fortuitous, but are chronic and deep-rooted and 
that therefore the resort to mere punitive measures, as past experience 
has shown, will prove unavailing. Personally, as I view the matter, 
it is highly questionable as to which side is responsible for the greatest 
outrage of all the outrageous disorders that excite our educational in- 
stitutions and are bringing them to their doom; I do not believe the 
government's reports. 

"This is the very point, that the other side is not listened to and 
cannot be listened to; it is gagged (the justice of my words, that in 
its reports the administration lies and that by its atrocious conduct 
it is chiefly responsible for the outrages, has not been fully confirmed). 

"Reference was made to the outside influences of various revolu- 
tionary forces upon the student youth. 

"Yes, those influences exist, but too much significance is attached 
to them. Thus, the factory owners, in whose factories these influences 
are mainly felt, also throw the blame for everything upon them, ar- 
guing that, were it not for those influences, there would be quiet and 
contentment and the peace of God in their factories; they forget or ig- 
nore all the legal and illegal exploitation of the workers, which brings 
about their impoverishment and rouses amongst them discontent and 
finally leads to disorders. Were it not for this exploitation, the revo- 
lutionary elements working from the outside would be deprived of the 
many grounds and causes that enable them to penetrate so easily into 
factory affairs. All this, in my opinion, may also be said with respect 
to our educational institutions, which have been transformed from 
temples of learning into factories for the manufacture of bureaucratic 

"The power of the small but purposive handful of young men and 
women, of whom the professor spoke, to hypnotise and incite crowds 



of young men and women, apparently not in the least so predisposed, 
to strikes and to disorders lies in the general, instinctive conscious- 
ness of the oppression weighing over the whole of our student youth, 
and in the generally unhealthy state of mind that is created by this 
oppression among student youth at all levels. This is what happens 
in all factories. 

"I recall also that something was said about not flattering the stu- 
dents, about not showing them sympathy during disorders, since 
expressions of sympathy merely incite them to fresh outbreaks, to 
illustrate which argument a number of varying instances were cited. 
On this point I would say, first of all, that in view of the manifold con- 
fusion and the diversity of occurrences during disorders, it is impos- 
sible to point to single cases as illustrative of all, since, for every such 
case, numerous others of a directly contradictory character can be 
found. One can only dwell on the general indications, which I shall 
here briefly undertake to do. 

"As we all know, the students are far from being coddled, not only 
have they not been scented with incense (I do not speak of the forties), 
but they have never enjoyed any particular public sympathy. At the 
time of the disorders, the public was either indifferent to the students 
or even more than negative towards them, throwing the blame entire- 
ly upon them, without knowing (or desiring to know) the causes of 
the disorders (credence was given, without the slightest doubt as 
to their veracity, to the government reports, which were hostile to the 
students, apparently for the first time the public has begun to doubt 
them). To speak, therefore, of flattering the students is quite be- 
side the mark. 

"Failing to find support among the intelligentsia in general or 
among the professors and the university officials, the students finally 
began to seek sympathy among the various popular elements, and we 
know that they succeeded more or less in finding it, they have begun 
gradually to gain the sympathy of the popular crowds. 

"To be convinced of this, one need only note the difference be- 
tween the present attitude of the crowd and that displayed towards 
the students at the time of the Okhotny Ryad 124 assaults. Herein 
lies the great evil: the evil is not that sympathy is expressed, but that 
this sympathy is one-sided, that it is assuming a demagogic tinge. 

"The absence of sympathy and support of any kind on the part of 
the settled intelligentsia, and the distrust this gives rise to, throws 
our youth inevitably into the arms of demagogues and revolutionists; 
it becomes their tools and, again inevitably, demagogic elements 
begin more and more to develop among the student youth, drawing 
it away from peaceful, cultural development and from the existing 
order (if it can be called order) and driving it into the enemy camp. 

"We ourselves are to blame if our youth has ceased to have confi- 
dence in us; we have done nothing to deserve its confidence. 

"These, I think, are the main ideas that were expressed at this 
meeting; the others (considerable in number, too) are hardly worth 

"I come now to the conclusion. In gathering here, our intention 
was to do something to calm the passions of the present day, to lighten 



the heavy burden of our youth today, not some time in the future, 
and we were defeated. Again the youth will be justified in saying and 
will say that today as in the past the peaceful, settled Russian intelli- 
gentsia neither can nor wishes to render it any assistance, to come 
to its defence, to understand it and to ease its bitter lot. The gulf 
between ourselves and the youth will become wider, and the youth 
will increasingly join up with the various demagogues whose hand is 
outstretched towards it. 

"We were not defeated by the fact that the measure we proposed, 
a petition to the tsar, was not accepted; perhaps that measure was not 
a practical one (although in my opinion no attention was paid to it); 
we were defeated by the fact that we ourselves destroyed all possibil- 
ity of applying any measure whatsoever to help our suffering youth; 
we have confessed our impotence, and once again we grope as before, 
in darkness. 

"What remains for us to do? 

"Wash our hands of the affair? 

"This darkness constitutes the terrible and gloomy tragedy of Rus- 
sian life." 

This speech requires no lengthy comment. It too, appar- 
ently, belongs to a still sufficiently "oh, so gay" Russian 
noble who, either for doctrinaire or for selfish motives, ex- 
presses reverence for "peaceful, cultural development" of 
the "existing order" and waxes indignant with "revolutionists", 
whom he confounds with "demagogues". But this indigna- 
tion, if examined closely, borders on the grumbling of an 
old man (old, not in age but in views) who perhaps is ready 
to recognise something good in the thing he is grumbling 
about. In speaking of the "existing order" he cannot refrain 
from remarking, "if it can be called order". He smoulders 
with resentment against the disorder caused by the "dicta- 
torship of the bureaucrats", the "systematic and chronic per- 
secution of all personality and dignity"; he cannot close his 
eyes to the fact that all the outrages are committed chiefly 
by the administration. He is sufficiently straightforward 
to confess his impotence and to recognise the indecency 
of "washing one's hands" of the entire country's misery. True, 
he is still frightened by the "one-sided" sympathy of the 
"crowd" towards the students. His aristocratically effemi- 
nated mind is haunted by the menace of "demagogy", and per- 
haps even by the menace of socialism (let us repay candour 
with candour). But it would be absurd to attempt to test 
the views and sentiments of a marshal of the nobility who is 
fed up with the disgusting Russian bureaucracy by the 



touchstone of socialism. We have no need to be diplomatic 
either in regard to him or to anyone else; when we hear a 
Russian landlord, for example, storming against the illegal 
exploitation and the impoverishment of factory workers, we 
will not fail, incidentally, to say to him, Cast out the beam 
out of thine own eye, friend! We shall not for a moment 
conceal from him that we stand and will continue to stand 
for the irreconcilable class struggle against the "masters" 
of modern society. But a political alignment is determined, 
not only by ultimate aims, but also by immediate aims, not 
only by general views, but also by the pressure of direct 
practical necessity. Whoever clearly sees the contradiction 
between the "cultural development" of the country and 
the "oppressive regime of the bureaucratic dictatorship" 
must, sooner or later, be compelled by the very facts of life 
to come to the conclusion that this contradiction cannot be 
removed unless the autocracy is removed. Having come to 
this conclusion, he will unfailingly assist — grumble, but 
assist — the party that can rouse a menacing force against 
the autocracy — a force that will be menacing, not only in 
the eyes of the autocracy, but in the eyes of all. In order to 
become such a party, we repeat, Social-Democracy must purge 
itself of all opportunistic pollution, and under the banner of 
revolutionary theory, basing itself on the most revolutionary 
class, it must carry its agitation and organising activity 
among all classes of the population. 

Taking our leave of the marshals of the nobility, we say, 
Au revoir, gentlemen, our allies of tomorrow! 



In Iskra, No. 9 (October 1901),* we told of the unsuccessful 
attempt to unite the section of the Zarya-Iskra organisation 
abroad, the revolutionary organisation Sotsial-Demokrat 
and the Union of Russian Social-Democrats Abroad. We 
have decided to publish the proceedings of the "Unity" 
Conference, so that all Russian Social-Democrats may 
independently draw their own conclusions as to the reasons 
for the failure of the attempt at unity made by the organisa- 
tions abroad. Unfortunately, the secretary of the Conference, 
elected by the Union Abroad, refused to assist in drawing 
up the minutes of the proceedings (as will be seen from his 
letter, quoted on pages 10 and 11 of this pamphlet, in reply to 
the invitation to him by the secretaries of the two other 

This refusal is all the more strange for the reason that the 
Union Abroad has published its own account of the "Unity" 
Conference {Two Conferences, Geneva, 1901). It would appear, 
therefore, that although the Union Abroad desired to inform 
the Russian comrades of the results of the Conference, it 
did not wish to acquaint them with the debates.** We leave 

* See present volume, pp. 241-42. —Ed. 
** According to the Conference standing orders, the minutes 
should have been approved by the Conference itself, each day's pro- 
ceedings commencing with the reading and approval of the minutes 
of the previous day's proceedings. But on the second day, when the 
chairman, in opening the session, called for the minutes of the first 
day's two sessions, the three secretaries in one voice declared that they 
could not present them. Owing to the absence of a stenographer, the 
records were in a most unsatisfactory state. It is quite understand- 
able, therefore, that if the secretaries could not prepare the minutes 
on the night after the first day of the Conference, it was useless to ex- 



it to the reader to draw his own conclusions as to the pos- 
sible and probable reasons for this unwillingness. 

After the Union Abroad had rejected our proposal, we 
on our part did not think it desirable to publish a summary 
of the discussion that had not been drawn up jointly by all 
three secretaries; for this reason we are obliged to confine 
ourselves to the publication of all documents and decla- 
rations submitted to the bureau of the Conference. The bureau 
consisted of the chairmen and secretaries of all three organ- 
isations, and all declarations were submitted to the bureau 
exclusively in writing; thus there can be no doubt about the 
objectivity of a description of the Conference which is based 
on the documents and declarations. 

On the other hand, the publication of all the documents 
and declarations presented to the bureau is all the more 
necessary at the present time, since the Union Abroad has 
crowned its strange refusal to participate in drawing up 
the minutes of the Conference with a still stranger method 
of drawing up the Conference report. Thus, the Union Ab- 
road has not reproduced in full the interpellations* submit- 
ted to the bureau of the Conference by the representative of 
Iskra (Frey 125 ) in the name of the Iskra section abroad, and 
of the Sotsial-Demokrat organisation; but it did reproduce 
the reply (to the interpellations) "drawn up" by the Union 
Abroad but not submitted to the bureau and not even read 
at the Conference (Two Conferences, p. 26). The Union 
Abroad is mistaken in stating that the "interpellation" 
was withdrawn. The interpellation consisted of the two 
questions submitted to the Union by Frey in the name of 
the two organisations (see p. 6 of this pamphlet). Neither 
of these questions was withdrawn; only the form was changed 

pect that the minutes would be ready on the evening of the second day 
when we left the Conference. Everyone knew perfectly well that the 
minutes were not ready. Hence, the indignation of the Union Abroad 
over the "desertion" of our chairman, who "did not wait until the 
minutes of the Conference were approved" (Two Conferences, p. 29), 
is nothing but a subterfuge. Since there was no verbatim report, there 
was nothing else to do except for the three secretaries to get together 
and draw up at least a brief summary of the discussions. This, in fact, 
was our proposal, but the Union Abroad rejected it. Clearly, the re- 
sponsibility for the absence of a summarised, if not a full, report of 
the Conference, rests upon the Union Abroad. 
* See present volume, p. 230.— Ed. 



to turn the questions into a resolution which might have 
been submitted to a vote (the words "Does the Union Abroad 
recognise in principle the resolution of the June Conference?" 
were altered to read: "The three organisations accept in 
principle the resolution of the June Conference", etc.). 
Furthermore, the Union Abroad has not published the dec- 
laration of the Borba group which was presented to the 
bureau (see pp. 6-7 of this pamphlet). 

Not only has the Union Abroad failed to publish the con- 
tents of the speech delivered by a member of the Borba 
group after the Union had submitted amendments to the 
June resolutions, but it makes no reference whatever to the 
speech.* In that speech, a member of the Borba group, 
who had taken part in the June Conference, spoke against 
the amendments of the Union Abroad. The Union published 
the "arguments" in favour of the amendments, contained in a 
speech delivered at the Conference by B. Krichevsky, 
without, however, having presented them to the bureau. In 
a word, having rejected our proposal for the joint drafting 
of a summary of the entire discussion, the Union preferred 
to publish only what it thought of advantage to itself and 
to ignore even some of the things that were presented to the 

We do not propose to follow that example. We have con- 
fined ourselves to the publication of all the declarations and 
documents presented to the bureau, with the bare statement 
as to the opinions expressed by the spokesmen of all the 
organisations represented at the Conference. Let the reader 
judge as to whether the articles in Rabocheye Dyelo, No. 10, 
and the amendments of the Union Abroad have violated the 
principle that was the basis of the agreement drawn up at 
the June Conference. Of course, we shall also leave unan- 
swered the angry words that so profusely decorate the pages 
of the pamphlet of the Union Abroad, including the charges 
of "slander", or of our having "broken up" the Conference by 
leaving it. Such accusations can only raise a smile. Three 
organisations gathered to discuss the question of unity. 
Two agreed that they could not unite with the third. Natu- 
rally, there was nothing left for the two organisations but to 

See pamphlet Two Conference, p. 28. 



explain their position and depart. Only those who are angry 
because they are wrong can characterise this step as "break- 
ing up" the Conference, or designate as "slander" the asser- 
tion that the Union Abroad wavers in questions of principle. 

As for our view of the controversial questions of Russian 
Social-Democracy, we prefer not to confuse the issue with 
an objective report of the Conference proceedings. In addi- 
tion to the articles that have already appeared, and will 
appear, in Iskra and Zarya, we are preparing a special pam- 
phlet on the urgent questions of our movement, to be pub- 
lished in the near future. 

Written in November 1901 Published according to 

First published in December the text in the Pamphlet 

1901 in a pamphlet 
issued by the League of Russian 
Revolutionary Social-Democracy 



We publish below the full text of another mass petition 
by means of which the Finnish people express their strong 
protest against the policy of the government, which has 
violated, and continues to violate, the constitution of Fin- 
land, thus breaking the oath solemnly taken by all the tsars, 
from Alexander I to Nicholas II. 

The petition was presented to the Finnish Senate on 
September 17 (30), 1901, for submission to the tsar. It is 
signed by 473,363 Finnish men and women of all strata of 
society, i.e., by nearly half a million citizens. The total pop- 
ulation of Finland is 2,500,000, so that this petition veri- 
tably expresses the voice of the entire people. 

The text reads in full: 

"Mosi puissant, most gracious Sovereign, Emperor and Grand 
Duke! Your Imperial Majesty's change of the law On military service 
in Finland has aroused general alarm and profound sorrow throughout 
the territory. 

The orders, the Manifesto and the law on military service, con- 
firmed by Your Imperial Majesty on July 12 (June 29) this year are to 
complete violation of the fundamental laws of the Grand Duchy and 
of the precious rights belonging to the Finnish people and to all the 
citizens of the country by virtue of its laws. 

"In accordance with the fundamental laws, regulations governing 
citizens' duties to defend the region may be issued only with the 
consent of the Diet. This was the procedure by which the Military 
Service Act of 1878 was passed, in accordance with a joint decision of 
the Emperor Alexander II and the Diet. During the reign of Emperor 
Alexander III, numerous specific changes were made in this Law, but 
none without the consent of the Diet. Despite this, the Law of 1878 
is declared annulled, without the consent of the Diet, and the new or- 
ders issued in place of the old Law are at complete variance with the 
decision of the deputies to the Extraordinary Diet of 1899. 

"One of the most important rights vested in every Finnish citizen 
is the right to live and act under the protection of the Finnish laws. 



Today, thousands and thousands of Finnish citizens are deprived of 
this right, for the new Military Service Act compels them to serve in 
Russian units and converts military service into suffering for those 
sons of our country who will be forcibly drafted into these units, alien 
to them in language, religion, manners, and customs. 

"The new regulations abolish every legally fixed limitation of the 
annual contingent. Moreover, they contain no recognition of the right 
granted by the fundamental laws for the Diet to participate in drafting 
the military budget. 

"In violation of the fundamental principle of the Law of 1878, 
even the militia has been made entirely dependent upon the discre- 
tion of the Minister of War. 

"The impression created by such regulations is not modified by 
the measures of relief referred to in the Manifesto, which are to oper- 
ate for a transitional period as yet undefined, because the temporary 
reduction in the number of recruits will be immediately followed by 
unlimited drafts for service with Russian units. 

"The Finnish people have not asked for any relief of the military 
burden they have carried. The Diet, which expresses the opinion of 
the people, has proved Finland's readiness to increase its share in the 
defence of the state as far as it is in its power, on the condition that 
the juridical position of the Finnish troops as a Finnish institution is 

"Contrary to this, the new regulations state that the majority of 
the Finnish units are to be abolished and Russian officers permitted 
to enter the service of the few remaining units; that even the non-com- 
missioned officers of these units must know the Russian language 
which means that Finnish-born citizens mainly of peasant strata will 
be prevented from filling these posts; that these troops are to come 
under Russian administration and that they may, even in peace-time, 
be stationed outside of Finland. 

"These orders which do not constitute a reform but merely pursue 
the aim of abolishing the national troops of Finland, are a sign of 
distrust which the Finnish people throughout almost a century of 
union with Russia have done nothing to deserve. 

"The new military service regulations also contain expressions, 
the implication of which is that the Finnish people have no father- 
land of their own and that the rights of Finnish citizenship to those 
born in the country are denied. These expressions betray aims that 
are incompatible with the inalienable right of the Finnish people to 
preserve, in their union with Russia, the political position firmly 
guaranteed to Finland in 1809. 

"A grave misfortune has beset our region during the recent years. 
Time and again it has been demonstrated that the established funda- 
mental laws of the region are ignored, partly in legislative measures 
and partly in the assignment of Russians to important posts. The re- 
gion has been administered in a manner to suggest that the aim was 
to disturb peace and order, to hinder useful pursuits, and to cause 
friction between Russians and Finns. 

"The greatest misfortune that has befallen the country, however, 
is the introduction of the new military service regulations. 



In its humble response of May 27, 1899, the Diet described in de- 
tail the order which, according to the fundamental laws of Finland 
must be observed in the promulgation of a law on military service. 
It was pointed out that if a new law on military service is passed in 
any other way, that law, even if put into operation by force, cannot be 
recognised as a legal measure, and in the eyes of the Finnish people 
will be nothing more than an act of violence. 

"Everything the Diet indicated continues to be the Finnish peo- 
ple's unchanging sense of justice, which cannot be changed by violence. 

"Serious consequences are to be feared from regulations not in accord 
with the laws of the country. The conscience of officials in government 
institutions will come into grave conflict with their sense of duty 
for conscience will urge them to refuse to be guided by such regula- 
tions. The number of able-bodied emigrants compelled to leave the 
country from fear of the threatening changes will increase still more 
if the regulations announced will be put into effect. 

"The new military service regulations, like every other measure 
directed against the rights of the Finnish people to a separate politi- 
cal and national existence, must inevitably sow distrust between the 
monarch and the people, as well as give rise to growing discontent, 
to a sense of general oppression, to uncertainty, and to enormous diffi- 
culties for society and its members in the work for the welfare of the 
region. These evils cannot be avoided except by the substitution of 
the aforesaid regulations by a military service law passed jointly with 
the Diet, and in general by the strict observance of the fundamental 
laws on the part of the government authorities of the region. 

"The Finnish people cannot cease to be a separate people. United 
by a common historical fate, by juridical conceptions and cultural 
work, our people will remain true to its love of the Finnish fatherland 
and to its traditional liberty. The people will not deviate from its 
aspirations to occupy worthily the modest place fate has destined for 
it among the nations. 

"Firm in the conviction of our rights and in the respect for our 
laws which are our mainstay in our social life, we are no less firmly 
convinced that the unity of mighty Russia will suffer no damage if 
Finland continues in the future to be administered in accordance with 
the fundamental principles laid down in 1809, and in this way to feel 
happy and peaceful in its union with Russia. 

"The sense of duty to their country compels the inhabitants of all 
communities and social strata to submit to Your Imperial Majesty a 
true and unembellished record of the state of affairs. We pointed out 
above that the recently promulgated military service regulations, 
contradicting as they do the solemnly guaranteed fundamental laws 
of the Grand Duchy, cannot be regarded as a legal act. We consider 
it our duty to add that the military burden in itself is not nearly so 
important to the Finnish people as the loss of firmly established 
rights and of legally founded tranquillity on this most important 
question. We therefore humbly pray Your Imperial Majesty graciously 
to give the matters referred to in this petition the attention their se- 
riousness calls for. We are, etc." 



We have little to add to the above petition, which rep- 
resents a people's indictment of the gang of Russian official 

We shall enumerate the principal facts of the "Finnish 

Finland was annexed to Russia in 1809, during the war 
with Sweden. Desiring to win over the Finns who were for- 
merly subjects of the Swedish King, Alexander I decided to 
recognise and confirm the old Finnish constitution. Accord- 
ing to this constitution, no fundamental law can be made, 
amended, interpreted, or repealed without the consent of the 
Diet, i.e., the assembly of representatives of all social-es- 
tates. Alexander I, in a number of manifestos, "solemnly" 
confirmed "the promise sacredly to preserve the separate 
constitution of the country". 

This sacred promise was subsequently confirmed by all 
succeeding Russian monarchs, including Nicholas II, who, in 
the Manifesto of October 25 (November 6), 1894, "promised 
to preserve them [the fundamental laws] in their inviolable 
and immutable force and operation". 

Within five years the Tsar of Russia had broken his solemn 
oath. Preceded by a campaign of vilification, conducted by 
the venal and servile press, the Manifesto of February 3 (15), 
1899 was promulgated, introducing new regulations, accord- 
ing to which laws might be passed without the consent of 
the Diet "if these laws concern the requirements of the Em- 
pire as a whole or are part of imperial legislation". 

This was a glaring violation of the constitution, a veri- 
table coup d'etat, because every law can be said to concern 
the requirements of the Empire as a whole! 

This coup d'etat was brought about by violence: Governor 
General Bobrikov threatened to call troops into Finland if 
the Senate refused to publish the Manifesto. According to 
the statements made by Russian officers, ball cartridges were 
distributed to the Russian troops stationed in Finland, and 
horses were saddled, etc. 

The first act of violence was followed by innumerable 
others. Finnish newspapers were suppressed one after anoth- 
er, the right of assembly was annulled, Finland was flooded 
with swarms of Russian spies and despicable provocateurs, 
who incited the people to rebellion etc., etc. Finally, the 



Military Service Act of June 29 (July 12) was passed, 
without the consent of the Diet. This law has been dealt with 
sufficiently in the petition. 

Both the Manifesto of February 3, 1899 and the Act of 
June 29, 1901 are illegal. This is the violence of a per- 
jurer acting with a horde of bashi-bazouks called the tsarist 
government. It would be futile, of course, for 2,500,000 
Finns to think of an uprising; but we, all Russian citizens, 
should ponder over the disgrace that puts us to shame. 
We are still slaves to such an extent that we are employed 
to reduce other peoples to slavery. We still tolerate a govern- 
ment that suppresses every aspiration towards liberty in 
Russia with the ferocity of an executioner, and that further- 
more employs Russian troops for the purpose of violently 
infringing on the liberties of others! 

Iskra, No. 10, November 1901 

Published according to 
the Iskra text 



Svoboda is a worthless little rag. Its author — indeed, 
this is precisely the impression it creates, that one person 
has written it all, from beginning to end — claims to write 
popularly "for the workers". But what we have here is not 
popularisation, but talking down in the worst sense of the 
term. There is not one simple word, everything is twisted.... 
The author cannot write a single phrase without embellish- 
ments, without "popular" similes and "popular" catchwords 
such as "theirn". Outworn socialist ideas are chewed over 
in this ugly language without any new data, any new exam- 
ples, any new analysis, and the whole thing is deliberately 
vulgarised. Popularisation, we should like to inform the 
author, is a long way from vulgarisation, from talking down. 
The popular writer leads his reader towards profound 
thoughts, towards profound study, proceeding from simple 
and generally known facts; with the aid of simple arguments 
or striking examples he shows the main conclusions to be 
drawn from those facts and arouses in the mind of the 
thinking reader ever newer questions. The popular writer 
does not presuppose a reader that does not think, that can- 
not or does not wish to think; on the contrary, he assumes 
in the undeveloped reader a serious intention to use his 
head and aids him in his serious and difficult work, leads 
him, helps him over his first steps, and teaches him to go 
forward independently. The vulgar writer assumes that his 
reader does not think and is incapable of thinking; he does 



not lead him in his first steps towards serious knowledge, 
but in a distortedly simplified form, interlarded with jokes 
and facetiousness, hands out "ready-made" all the conclu- 
sions of a known theory, so that the reader does not even 
have to chew but merely to swallow what he is given. 

Written in the autumn of 1901 Published according to 

First published in the magazine the manuscript 

Bolshevik, No. 2, 1936 

First page of the manuscript of Lenin's 
"The Journal Svoboda". 1901 



Below we publish in full, as received from one of our 

"A Letter to the Russian Social-Democratic Press. 

"In response to the suggestion made by our comrades in exile that 
we express our views on Iskra, we have resolved to state the reasons 
for our disagreement with that organ. 

"While recognising that the appearance of a special Social-Demo- 
cratic organ specially devoted to questions of the political struggle 
is entirely opportune, we do not think that Iskra, which has under- 
taken this task, has performed it satisfactorily. The principal drawback 
of the paper, which runs like a scarlet thread through its columns, 
and which is the cause of all its other defects, large and small, is the 
exaggerated importance it attaches to the influence which the ideolo- 
gists of the movement exert upon its various tendencies. At the same 
time, Iskra gives too little consideration to the material elements and 
the material environment of the movement, whose interaction creates 
a definite type of labour movement and determines its path, the path 
from which the ideologists, despite all their efforts, are incapable of 
diverting it, even if they are inspired by the finest theories and pro- 

"This defect becomes most marked when Iskra is compared with 
Yuzhny Rabochy 121 which, like Iskra, raises the banner of political 
struggle but connects it with the preceding phase of the South-Russian 
working-class movement. Such a presentation of the question is alien 
to Iskra. It has set itself the task of fanning 'the spark into a great 
conflagration',* but it forgets that necessary inflammable material 
and favourable environmental conditions are required for such a task. 
In dissociating itself completely from the 'Economists', Iskra loses 
sight of the fact that their activity prepared the ground for the workers' 
participation in the February and March events, upon which Iskra 
lays so much stress and, to all appearances, greatly exaggerates. While 
criticising adversely the activity of the Social-Democrats of the late 
nineties, Iskra ignores the fact that at that time the conditions were 

A play on the word Iskra, which means "spark". — Tr. 



lacking for any work other than the struggle for minor demands, and 
ignores also the enormous educational significance of that struggle. 
Iskra is entirely wrong and unhistorical in its appraisement of that 
period and of the direction of the activities of the Russian Social- 
Democrats at the time, in identifying their tactics with those of Zu- 
batov, 128 in failing to differentiate between the 'struggle for mi- 
nor demands', which widens and deepens the labour movement, and 
'minor concessions', whose purpose was to paralyse every struggle 
and every movement. 

"Thoroughly imbued with the sectarian intolerance so characteris- 
tic of ideologists in the infantile period of social movements, Iskra 
is ready to brand every disagreement with it, not only as a departure 
from Social-Democratic principles, but as desertion to the camp of 
the enemy. Of such a nature is its extremely indecent and most repre- 
hensible attack upon Rabochaya Mysl, contained in the article on Zuba- 
tov, in which the latter's success among a certain section of the work- 
ing class was attributed to that publication. Negatively disposed to 
the other Social-Democratic organisations, which differ from it in 
their views on the progress and the tasks of the Russian labour move- 
ment, Iskra, in the heat of controversy, at times forgets the truth and, 
picking on isolated unfortunate expressions, attributes to its opponents 
views they do not hold, emphasises points of disagreement that are 
frequently of little material importance, and obstinately ignores the 
numerous points of contact in views. We have in mind Iskra's attitude 
towards Rabocheye Dyelo. 

"/sera's excessive predilection for controversy is due primarily to 
its exaggerating the role of 'ideology' (programmes, theories...) 
in the movement, and is partly an echo of the internecine squabbles 
that have flared up among Russian political exiles in Western Europe, 
of which they have hastened to inform the world in a number of polem- 
ical pamphlets and articles. In our opinion, these disagreements 
exercise almost no influence upon the actual course of the Russian So- 
cial-Democratic movement, except perhaps to damage it by bringing 
an undesirable schism into the midst of the comrades working in Rus- 
sia. For this reason, we cannot but express our disapproval of Iskra's 
fervent polemics, particularly when it oversteps the bounds of decency. 

"This basic drawback of Iskra is also the cause of its inconsistency 
on the question of the attitude of Social-Democracy to the various social 
classes and tendencies. By theoretical reasoning, Iskra solved the prob- 
lem of the immediate transition to the struggle against absolutism. 
In all probability it senses the difficulty of such a task for the workers 
under the present state of affairs but lacking the patience to wait un- 
til the workers will have gathered sufficient forces for this struggle, 
Iskra begins to seek allies in the ranks of the liberals and intellectuals. 
In this quest, it not infrequently departs from the class point of view, obscures 
class antagonisms, and puts into the forefront the common 
nature of the discontent with the government, although the causes 
and the degree of the discontent vary considerably among the 'allies'. 
Such, for example, is Iskra's attitude towards the Zemstvo. It tries 
to fan into flames of political struggle the Zemstvo's Frondian demon- 
strations, which are frequently called forth by the fact that the govern- 



ment pays more attention to the protection of industry than to the 
agrarian aspirations of the Zemstvo gentry*, and it promises the 
nobles that are dissatisfied with the government's sops the assistance 
of the working class, but it does not say a word about the class 
antagonism that exists between these social strata. It may be 
conceded that it is admissible to say that the Zemstvo is being 
roused and that it is an element fighting the government, but this must 
be stated so clearly and distinctly that no doubt will be left as to the 
character of a possible agreement with such elements. Iskra, however, 
approaches the question of our attitude towards the Zemstvo in a way 
that to our mind can only dim class-consciousness, for in this matter, 
like the advocates of liberalism and of the various cultural endeavours, 
Iskra goes against the fundamental task of Social-Democratic litera- 
ture, which is, not to obscure class antagonism, but to criticise the 
bourgeois system and explain the class interests that divide it. Such, 
too, is Iskra's attitude towards the student movement. And yet in 
other articles Iskra sharply condemns all 'compromise' and defends, 
for instance, the intolerant conduct of the Guesdists. 

"We shall refrain from dwelling upon Iskra's minor defects and blun- 
ders, but in conclusion we think it our duty to observe that we do not 
in the least desire by our criticism to belittle the significance which 
Iskra can acquire, nor do we close our eyes to its merits. We welcome 
it as a political, Social-Democratic newspaper in Russia. We regard one 
of its greatest merits to be its able explanation of the question of ter- 
ror to which it devoted a number of timely articles. Finally, we can- 
not refrain from noting the exemplary, literary style in which Iskra 
is written, a thing so rare in illegal publications, its regular appear- 
ance, and the abundance of fresh and interesting material which it 

"A group of comrades" 

September 1901." 

In the first place, we should like to say that we cordially 
welcome the straightforwardness and frankness of the authors 
of this letter. It is high time to stop playing at hide-and- 
seek, concealing one's Economist "credo" (as is done by a 
section of the Odessa Committee from which the "politi- 
cians" broke away), or declaring, as if in mockery of the truth, 
that at the present time "not a single Social-Democratic 
organisation is guilty of the sin of Economism" (Two Con- 
ferences, p. 32, published by Rabocheye Dyelo). And now 
to the matter. 

The authors of the letter fall into the very same fun- 
damental error as that made by Rabocheye Dyelo (see partic- 
ularly issue No. 10). They are muddled over the question 

* Lenin's reference is to the liberal landlords, members of the 
Zemstvo Boards.— Tr. 



of the relations between the "material" (spontaneous, as 
Rabocheye Dyelo puts it) elements of the movement and 
the ideological (conscious, operating "according to plan"). 
They fail to understand that the "ideologist" is worthy of 
the name only when he precedes the spontaneous movement, 
points out the road, and is able ahead of all others to solve 
all the theoretical, political, tactical, and organisational 
questions which the "material elements" of the movement 
spontaneously encounter. In order truly to give "considera- 
tion to the material elements of the movement", one must 
view them critically, one must be able to point out the 
dangers and defects of spontaneity and to elevate it to the 
level of consciousness. To say, however, that ideologists (i.e., 
politically conscious leaders) cannot divert the movement 
from the path determined by the interaction of environment 
and elements is to ignore the simple truth that the con- 
scious element participates in this interaction and in 
the determination of the path. Catholic and monarchist 
labour unions in Europe are also an inevitable result of the 
interaction of environment and elements, but it was the con- 
sciousness of priests and Zubatovs and not that of social- 
ists that participated in this interaction. The theoretical 
views of the authors of this letter (like those of Rabocheye 
Dyelo) do not represent Marxism, but that parody of it which 
is nursed by our "Critics" and Bernsteinians who are unable 
to connect spontaneous evolution with conscious revolu- 
tionary activity. 

In the prevailing circumstances of today this profound 
theoretical error inevitably leads to a great tactical error, 
which has brought incalculable damage to Russian Social- 
Democracy. It is a fact that the spontaneous awakening of 
the masses of the workers and (due to their influence) of 
other social strata has been taking place with astonishing 
rapidity during the past few years. The "material elements" 
of the movement have grown enormously even as compared 
with 1898, but the conscious leaders (the Social-Democrats) 
lag behind this growth. This is the main cause of the crisis 
which Russian Social-Democracy is now experiencing. The 
mass (spontaneous) movement lacks "ideologists" sufficiently 
trained theoretically to be proof against all vacillations; 
it lacks leaders with such a broad political outlook, such 



revolutionary energy, and such organisational talent as to 
create a militant political party on the basis of the new 

All this in itself would, however, be but half the evil. 
Theoretical knowledge, political experience, and organising 
ability are things that can be acquired. If only the desire 
exists to study and acquire these qualities. But since the end 
of 1897, particularly since the autumn of 1898, there have 
come forward in the Russian Social-Democratic movement 
individuals and periodicals that not only close their eyes 
to this drawback, but that have declared it to be a special 
virtue, that have elevated the worship of, and servility 
towards, spontaneity to the dignity of a theory and are 
preaching that Social-Democrats must not march ahead of 
the movement, but should drag along at the tail-end. (These 
periodicals include not only Rabochaya Mysl, but Rabocheye 
Dyelo, which began with the "stages theory" and ended with 
the defence, as a matter of principle, of spontaneity, of the 
"full rights of the movement of the moment", of "tactics-as- 
process", etc.) 

This was, indeed, a sad situation. It meant the emergence 
of a separate trend, which is usually designated as Econo- 
mism (in the broad sense of the word), the principal feature 
of which is its incomprehension, even defence, of lagging, i.e., 
as we have explained, the lagging of the conscious leaders 
behind the spontaneous awakening of the masses. The charac- 
teristic features of this trend express themselves in the follow- 
ing: with respect to principles, in a vulgarisation of Marxism 
and in helplessness in the face of modern "criticism", that 
up-to-date species of opportunism; with respect to politics, 
in the striving to restrict political agitation and political 
struggle or to reduce them to petty activities, in the fail- 
ure to understand that unless Social-Democrats take the 
leadership of the general democratic movement in their 
own hands, they will never be able to overthrow the autocra- 
cy; with respect to tactics, in utter instability (last spring 
Rabocheye Dyelo stood in amazement before the "new" 
question of terror, and only six months later, after consid- 
erable wavering and, as always, dragging along at the tail- 
end of the movement, did it express itself against terror, 
in a very ambiguous resolution); and with respect to 



organisation, in the failure to understand that the mass 
character of the movement does not diminish, but increases, 
our obligation to establish a strong and centralised organisa- 
tion of revolutionaries capable of leading the preparatory 
struggle, every unexpected outbreak, and, finally, the de- 
cisive assault. 

Against this trend we have conducted and will continue 
to conduct an irreconcilable struggle. The authors of the 
letter apparently belong to this trend. They tell us that 
the economic struggle prepared the ground for the workers' 
participation in the demonstrations. True enough; but we 
appreciated sooner and more profoundly than all others the 
importance of this preparation, when, as early as December 
1900, in our first issue, we opposed the stages theory,* 
and when, in February, in our second issue, immediately 
after the drafting of the students into the army, and prior 
to the demonstrations, we called upon the workers to come 
to the aid of the students.** The February and March events 
did not "refute the fears and alarms of Iskra" (as Martynov, 
who thereby displays his utter failure to understand the 
question, thinks — Rabocheye Dyelo, No. 10, p. 53), but 
wholly confirmed them, for the leaders lagged behind the 
spontaneous rise of the masses and proved to be unprepared 
for the fulfilment of their duties as leaders. Even at the 
present time the preparations are far from adequate, and for 
that reason all talk about "exaggerating the role of ideology" 
or the role of the conscious element as compared with the 
spontaneous element, etc., continues to exercise a most 
baneful influence upon our Party. 

No less harmful is the influence exerted by the talk, alleg- 
edly in defence of the class point of view, about the need to 
lay less stress on the general character of discontent manifest- 
ed by the various strata of the population against the govern- 
ment. On the contrary, we are proud of the fact that Iskra 
rouses political discontent among all strata of the population, 
and the only thing we regret is that we are unable to do this 
in a much wider scale. It is not true to say that in doing so, 
we obscure the class point of view; the authors of the letter 

See present edition, Vol. 4, pp. 366-71.— Ed. 
Ibid., pp. 414-19.— Ed. 



have not pointed to a single concrete instance in evidence 
of this, nor can they do so. Social-Democracy, as the van- 
guard in the struggle for democracy, must (notwithstanding 
the opinion expressed in Rabocheye Dyelo, No. 10, p. 41) 
lead the activities of the various oppositional strata, explain 
to them the general political significance of their partial 
and professional conflicts with the government, rally them 
to the support of the revolutionary party, and train from its 
own ranks leaders capable of exercising political influence 
upon all oppositional strata. Any renunciation of this func- 
tion, however florid the phrases about close, organic contact 
with the proletarian struggle, etc., with which it may deck it- 
self, is tantamount to a fresh "defence of lagging", the defence 
of lagging behind the nation-wide democratic movement on 
the part of Social-Democrats; it is tantamount to a surrender 
of the leadership to bourgeois democracy. Let the authors 
of the letter ponder over the question as to why the events of 
last spring served so strongly to stimulate rcorc-Social-Demo- 
cratic revolutionary tendencies, instead of raising the author- 
ity and prestige of Social-Democracy. 

Nor can we refrain from protesting against the astonish- 
ing short-sightedness displayed by the authors of the letter 
in regard to the controversies and internecine squabbles 
among the political exiles. They repeat the stale nonsense 
about the "indecency" of devoting to Rabochaya Mysl an 
article on Zubatov. Do they wish to deny that the spreading 
of Economism facilitates the tasks of the Zubatovs? In 
asserting this, however, we do not in the slightest "identify" 
the tactics of the Economists with those of Zubatov. As 
for the "political exiles" (if the authors of the letter were 
not so unpardonably careless concerning the continuity of 
ideas in the Russian Social-Democratic movement, they 
would have known that the warning about Economism sound- 
ed by the "political exiles", to be precise, by the Emanci- 
pation of Labour group, has been strikingly confirmed!), 
note the manner in which Lassalle, who was active among 
the Rhine workers in 1852, judged the controversies of the 
exiles in London. Writing to Marx, he said: 

"...The publication of your work against the 'big men', 
Kinkel, Ruge, etc., should hardly meet with any difficulties 
on the part of the police.... For, in my opinion, the govern- 



ment is not averse to the publication of such works, because 
it thinks that 'the revolutionaries will cut one another's 
throats'. Their bureaucratic logic neither suspects nor fears 
the fact that it is precisely internal Party struggles that lend 
a party strength and vitality; that the greatest proof of a 
party's weakness is its diffuseness and the blurring of clear 
demarcations; and that a party becomes stronger by purg- 
ing itself" (letter from Lassalle to Marx, June 24, 1852). 

Let the numerous complacent opponents of severity, 
irreconcilability, and fervent polemics, etc., take note! 

In conclusion, we shall observe that in these remarks we 
have been able to deal only briefly with the questions in 
dispute. We intend to devote a special pamphlet to the anal- 
ysis of these questions, which we hope will appear in the 
course of six weeks. 

Iskra, No. 12, December 6, 1901 

Published according to 
the Iskra text 



The Editorial Board of Iskra joins whole-heartedly in 
celebrating the twenty-fifth anniversary of the revolution- 
ary activity of G. V. Plekhanov. May this celebration 
serve to strengthen the positions of revolutionary Marx- 
ism, which alone can guide the world struggle of the prole- 
tariat for emancipation and resist the attacks of eternally 
old opportunism that is recurrently making its noisy appear- 
ance in new guises. May this celebration serve to strengthen 
the bonds between the thousands of young Russian Social- 
Democrats who are devoting all their efforts to difficult 
practical work and the Emancipation of Labour group, 
which is providing the movement with what it stands so 
much in need of — a tremendous reserve of theoretical 
knowledge, wide political horizons, and rich revolutionary 

Long live Russian revolutionary Social-Democracy! 
Long live international Social-Democracy! 

Written in December 1901 Published according to 

First published the manuscript 

in the magazine Proletarskaya 
Revolutsia, No. 7, (30) 



A fortnight ago we observed the twenty-fifth anniversary 
of the first social-revolutionary demonstration in Russia, 
which took place on December 6, 1876, on Kazan Square 
in St. Petersburg, 129 and we pointed to the enormous 
upswing in the number and magnitude of the demonstra- 
tions at the beginning of the current year. We urged that 
the demonstrators should advance a political slogan more 
clearly defined than "Land and Freedom" 130 (1876), and a 
more far-reaching demand than "Repeal the Provisional 
Regulations" (1901). Such a slogan must be: political 
freedom; and the demand to be put forward by the entire 
people has to be the demand for the convocation of the people's 

We see now that demonstrations are being revived on 
the most varied grounds in Nizhni-Novgorod, in Moscow, 
and in Kharkov. Public unrest is growing everywhere, and 
more and more imperative becomes the necessity to unify 
it into one single current directed against the autocracy, 
which everywhere sows tyranny, oppression, and violence. 
On November 7, a small but successful demonstration was 
held in Nizhni-Novgorod, which arose out of a farewell 
gathering in honour of Maxim Gorky. An author of Euro- 
pean fame, whose only weapon was free speech (as a speaker 
at the Nizhni-Novgorod demonstration aptly put it), was 
being banished by the autocratic government from his 
home town without trial or investigation. The bashi- 
bazouks accuse him of exercising a harmful influence on us, 
said the speaker in the name of all Russians in whom but a 
spark of striving towards light and liberty is alive, but we 
declare that his influence has been a good one. The myrmi- 



dons of the tsar perpetrate their outrages in secret, and we 
will expose their outrages publicly and openly. In Russia, 
workers are assaulted for demanding their right to a better 
life; students are assaulted for protesting against tyranny. 
Every honest and bold utterance is suppressed! The demon- 
stration, in which workers took part, was concluded by a 
student reciting: "Tyranny shall fall, and the people shall 
rise — mighty, free, and strong!" 

In Moscow, hundreds of students waited at the station 
to greet Gorky. Meanwhile, the police, scared out of their 
wits, arrested him on the train en route and (despite the 
special permission previously granted him) prohibited his 
entering Moscow, forcing him to change directly from 
the Nizhni-Novgorod to the Kursk line. The demonstration 
against Gorky's banishment failed; but on the eighteenth 
of November, without any preparation, a small demonstra- 
tion of students and "strangers" (as our Ministers put it) 
took place in front of the Governor General's house against 
the prohibition of a social evening arranged for the previous 
day to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the death 
of N. A. Dobrolyubov. 131 The representative of the autoc- 
racy in Moscow was howled down by people who, in 
unison with all educated and thinking people in Russia, 
held dear the memory of a writer who had passionately 
hated tyranny and passionately looked forward to a peo- 
ple's uprising against the "Turks at home", i.e., against the 
autocratic government. The Executive Committee of the 
Moscow Students' Organisations rightly pointed out in 
its bulletin of November 23 that the unprepared demon- 
stration served as a striking indication of the prevailing 
discontent and protest. 

In Kharkov, a demonstration called in connection with 
student affairs developed into a regular street battle, in 
which the students were not the only participants. Last 
year's experience taught the students a lesson. They 
realised that only the support of the people, especially 
of the workers, could guarantee them success, and that in 
order to obtain that support, they must not restrict them- 
selves to struggling merely for academic (student) freedom, 
but for the freedom of the entire people, for political freedom. 
The Kharkov Joint Council of Students' Organisations 



definitely expressed this idea in its October manifesto and, 
judging from their leaflets and manifestos, the students of St. 
Petersburg, Moscow, Kiev, Riga, and Odessa are beginning 
to understand the "senselessness of the dream" of academic 
freedom amidst the gloom of enslavement enshrouding the 
people. The infamous speech delivered by General Vannovsky 
in Moscow, in which he denied the "rumours" that he had at 
one time promised something, the unparalleled insolence of 
the St. Petersburg detective (who seized a student in the 
Institute of Electrical Engineering in order to take from 
him a letter he had received by messenger), the savage as- 
sault upon Yaroslavl students by the police in the streets 
and in the police station — these and a thousand other 
facts sound their cry for struggle, struggle, struggle against 
the whole of the autocratic system. Patience became 
exhausted in the case of the Kharkov veterinaries. The 
first-year students submitted a petition for the dismissal of 
Professor Lagermark, on account of his bureaucratic atti- 
tude towards their studies and his intolerable rudeness in 
which he went so far as to fling copies of the syllabus in the 
faces of the students! Without investigating the case, the 
government responded by expelling the entire first-year 
student body from the Institute, and in addition slandered 
the students by declaring in its report that they demanded 
the right to appoint the professors. This roused the entire 
Kharkov student body to action, and it was resolved to 
organise a strike and a demonstration. Between November 
28 and December 2, Kharkov was for the second time in the 
same year transformed into a field of battle between the 
"Turks at home" and the people, which protested against 
autocratic tyranny. On the one side, shouts of, "Down with 
the autocracy!", "Long live liberty!" — on the other, sabres, 
knouts, and horses trampling upon the people. The police 
and Cossacks, mercilessly assaulting all and sundry, irrespec- 
tive of age and sex, gained a victory over an unarmed 
crowd and are now triumphant.... 
Shall we allow them to triumph? 

Workers! You know only too well the evil force that is 
tormenting the Russian people. This evil force binds you 
hand and foot in your everyday struggles against the employ- 
ers for a better life and for human dignity. This evil force 



snatches hundreds and thousands of your best comrades 
from your midst, flings them into jail, sends them into 
banishment, and, as if in mockery, declares them to be 
"persons of evil conduct". This evil force on May 7 fired 
on the workers of the Obukhov Works in St. Petersburg, 
when they rose up with the cry, "We want liberty!" — and 
then staged a farce of a trial, in order to send to penal ser- 
vitude those heroes who escaped the bullets. This evil 
force is assaulting students today, and tomorrow it will 
fling itself with greater ferocity upon you. Lose no time! 
Remember that you must support every protest and every 
struggle against the bashi-bazouks of the autocratic govern- 
ment! Exert every effort to come to an agreement with the 
demonstrating students, organise circles for the rapid trans- 
mission of information and for the distribution of leaflets, 
explain to all that you are struggling for the freedom of 
the entire people. 

When the flames of popular indignation and open struggle 
flare up, first in one place and then in another, it is more 
than ever necessary to direct upon them a powerful current 
of fresh air, to fan them into a great conflagration! 

Iskra, No. 13, December 20, 1901 

Published according to 
the Iskra text 



We have received a letter from "Southern Workers" wel- 
coming the strengthening of the revolutionary current in 
Russian Social-Democracy and asking us to convey their 
greetings to the League of Russian Revolutionary Social- 
Democracy Abroad. Unfortunately we cannot print the let- 
ter in full, due to lack of space. We are in complete accord 
with the authors of the letter that "the methods adopted 
in Russia for bringing revolutionary ideas to the masses 
through proclamations are not adequate for educating the 
masses to political consciousness", that "it is essential to 
establish a special literature for the political education of 
the Russian proletariat". But their proposal to issue, for 
that purpose, popular pamphlets of three or four pages 
to be distributed "simultaneously throughout Russia" is 
hardly feasible. We hold that the Russian proletariat is 
now mature enough for the type of publication that is 
serviceable to all other classes — viz., newspapers. Only 
a political newspaper can really educate the masses to 
become politically conscious and, in the words of the letter, 
throw light on "the whole of our social life, from the fourth 
estate to the big bourgeoisie". Only an All-Russian news- 
paper, if actively supported by all committees and local 
study circles, can achieve distribution more or less "simul- 
taneously throughout Russia" and be published frequently 
enough to deserve the name of newspaper. Only the firm 
establishment of a revolutionary organ of this type can 
mark the transition of our movement from "strikes and the 
economic struggle to the broad revolutionary struggle 
against the Russian autocratic government". 

Iskra, No. 13, December 20, 1901 

Published according to 
the Iskra text 




1. Anarchism, in the course of the 35 to 40 years (Bakunin 
and the International, 1866 — ) of its existence (and with 
Stirner included, in the course of many more years) has 
produced nothing but general platitudes against exploi- 

These phrases have been current for more than 2,000 
years. What is missing is (a) an understanding of the 
causes of exploitation; ((3) an understanding of the devel- 
opment of society, which leads to socialism; (y) an under- 
standing of the class struggle as the creative force for the 
realisation of socialism. 

2. An understanding of the causes of exploitation. 
Private property as the basis of commodity economy. Social 
property in the means of production. In anarchism — 

Anarchism is bourgeois individualism in reverse. Indi- 
vidualism as the basis of the entire anarchist world 

'Defence of petty property and petty economy on the" 
J land. Keine Majoritdt.* I 

Negation of the unifying and organising power of 
- authority. 

3. Failure to understand the development of society — 
the role of large-scale production — the development of 
capitalism into socialism. 

(Anarchism is a product of despair. The psychology of 
the unsettled intellectual or the vagabond and not of the 

* No majority (i.e., the anarchists' non-acceptance of the sub- 
mission by the minority to the majority). — Ed. 



4. Failure to understand the class struggle of the prole- 

Absurd negation of politics in bourgeois society. 
Failure to understand the role of the organisation and 
the education of the workers. 

Panaceas consisting of one-sided, disconnected means. 

5. What has anarchism, at one time dominant in the 
Romance countries, contributed in recent European his- 

— No doctrine, revolutionary teaching, or theory. 

— Fragmentation of the working-class movement. 

— Complete fiasco in the experiments of the revolution- 
ary movement (Proudhonism, 1871; Bakuninism, 1873). 

— Subordination of the working class to bourgeois 
politics in the guise of negation of politics. 

Written in 1901 Published according to 

First published in 1936 in the manuscript 

the magazine Proletarskaya, 
Revolutsia, No. 7 

* / fry****"— •»* J&y^i.**-. — 

^^J^f jQZ. ^£>>r *~yc 

First page of the manuscript of Lenin's 
"Anarchism and Socialism". 1901 




Our newspapers, as usual, have published the most re- 
spectful report of the Minister of Finance on the budget — 
the state revenues and disbursements for 1902. As usual, 
everything, according to the Minister's assurance, is going 
well: "the finances are in a most satisfactory state", "equi- 
librium has been firmly maintained in the budget", "the 
railway system continues its successful development", and 
there is even "a steady improvement in the people's wel- 
fare"! Small wonder that so little interest is shown in 
questions of the state economy, despite their importance; 
interest is blunted by the obligatory, standard eulogies; 
for everyone knows that paper will put up with anything, 
that "anyway" the public "isn't allowed to peep" behind 
the scenes of official financial juggling. 

On this occasion, however, the following circumstance 
stands out particularly. With his usual legerdemain the 
conjurer shows the public his empty hands, makes passes, 
and produces one gold coin after another. The public ap- 
plauds. Nevertheless, the conjurer begins to make the most 
frantic efforts to defend himself and is almost in tears when 
he assures us that he is not deceiving us, that there is no 
deficit, and that his liabilities are less than his assets. 
Russians have been so well schooled in respectable behav- 
iour in official places that even as onlookers they feel 
uncomfortable, and only a few mutter the French saying 
under their breath: "He who excuses himself accuses 

Let us see how our Witte "excuses" himself. The gigantic 
expenditure, amounting to almost 2,000 million rubles 
(1,946 million), has been fully covered only because of 



the 144 million taken from the famous "free cash in hand" 
at the State Treasury, which free cash in hand was made up 
by last year's 4 per cent loan of 127 million rubles (floated 
at 148 million rubles, of which 21 million have still not been 
taken up). In other words, a deficit covered by the loan? 
Nothing of the sort, says our magician, "the loan was cer- 
tainly not floated because of the need to cover expendi- 
tures unforeseen in the estimate", since 114 million rubles 
remained "completely free" after the coverage; the loan was 
raised because it was desired to build new railways. 

Well said, Mr. Witte! But, first, what you say does not 
refute the fact of the deficit, since 114 million rubles, even 
if "completely free", cannot cover an expenditure of 144 mil- 
lion rubles. Secondly, the free cash in hand (114 million 
rubles) included 63 million received in excess of the usual 
revenue for 1901, as compared with the budget estimate, 
and our press has long since revealed the fact that you 
artificially reduce the estimate for the budget revenue in 
order to effect a fictitious increase in the "free cash in 
hand" and steadily increase taxation. Last year, for instance, 
stamp duties were raised (the new stamp duty regulations), 
the price of government-distilled vodka rose from 7 rubles to 
7 rubles 60 kopeks a vedro,* customs duties continued to 
increase (increases were introduced "temporarily" in 1900 on 
account of the war in China), and so on. Thirdly, while you 
laud the "cultural role" of the railways, you modestly 
refrain from mentioning the purely Russian and very 
uncultured custom of plundering the Treasury when rail- 
ways are built (to say nothing of the shameful exploitation 
of the workers and the starving peasants by railway contrac- 
tors!). Thus, a Russian newspaper recently reported that 
the cost of building the Siberian railway was initially 
estimated at 350 million rubles, but that in actuality 
780 million have been expended and that in the end the 
total cost will probably exceed 1,000 million (Iskra has 
had something to say about the plunder on the Siberian 
railway: see issue No. 2). You compute the revenues with 
precision, Mr. Witte, omitting nothing, but how about 
rendering an account of the actual extent of the expenditure? 

*1 vedro— about 12.3 litres (21.7 pints). — Tr. 



Another matter not to be forgotten is the fact that the 
building of railways in 1902 was undertaken partly because 
of the military purposes of our "peace-loving" government (the 
vast Bologoye-Sedlets line, more than 1,000 versts long) and 
partly because of the absolute necessity to afford at least some 
"help" to oppressed industry, in whose affairs the State Bank 
is directly interested. The State Bank has not only granted 
loans with a liberal hand to tottering enterprises, but has 
practically taken many of them under its full control. The 
bankruptcy of industrial enterprises threatened to lead to the 
bankruptcy of the state! Lastly, let us not forget, either, 
that it is under the administration of the "genius" Witte 
that the sum of the loans and the size of the taxes are con- 
stantly increasing, despite the fact that the capital of the 
savings-banks is applied exclusively to support state cred- 
its. This capital has already exceeded 800 million rubles. 
Taking all this into consideration, we realise that Witte's 
economy is wasteful, that the autocracy is heading slowly 
but surely for bankruptcy, since taxation cannot be raised 
indefinitely and the French bourgeoisie will not always 
come to the aid of the Russian Tsar. 

Against the charge of having increased the national debt 
Witte defends himself with arguments that are sheerly 
ludicrous. He compares liabilities with "assets", he com- 
pares the sum of the state loans for 1892 and 1902 with the 
costs of the state railways for the same years and produces 
a reduction in the "net" debt. But we have still further 
assets: "Fortresses and warships" (I swear, the report had it 
so!), harbours and government factories, quit-rent, and 

Magnificent, Mr. Witte! But have you not noticed that 
you are like the merchant summoned to court as a bank- 
rupt who tried to justify himself before the bailiffs who were 
about to make an inventory of his property? As long as an 
enterprise is unshakably solvent no one would dream of 
asking that loans be specially guaranteed. No one doubts 
that the Russian people have plenty of "assets"; but the 
greater these assets, the greater the guilt of those who, de- 
spite the abundance, conduct the economy by increasing 
loans and taxation. You are merely demonstrating to the 
people that they should get rid of those who squander their 



assets, and do so as quickly as possible. In actual fact, 
of all the European countries, Turkey alone has so far 
put forward special state assets as a guarantee of state 
loans. This action has naturally led to the assumption of 
control by foreign creditors over the assets that were to 
guarantee them the return of the loans they had advanced. 
The economy of the "great Russian state" administered by 
representatives of Rothschild and of Bleichroder — what 
glittering prospects you open up before us, Mr. Witte!* 

This is quite apart from the fact that there is no banker 
who will accept fortresses and warships as collateral, that 
these represent a minus, not a plus, in our economy. Even 
railways can serve as a guarantee only when they are run 
at a profit. However, from Mr. Witte's report we learn that 
up to the present all Russian railways have, in general, 
been run at a loss. Only in 1900 was the deficit on the 
Siberian railways covered and a "small net profit" ob- 
tained — so small that Mr. Witte remains modestly silent 
as to its amount. He also remains silent in regard to the 
fact that in the first eight months of 1901 the takings of 
the railways in European Russia dropped as a result of 
the crisis. We can well imagine the balance of our railway 
economy if the actual sums of money plundered during 
construction, as well as the official sums allotted for the 
job, were taken into consideration. Is it not high time to 
place these valuable assets in more reliable hands? 

Needless to say, Witte speaks in the most soothing tones 
of the industrial crisis: "The hitch ... without doubt does 
not affect general industrial prosperity and, after a cer- 
tain interval of time, we shall probably [!] see a fresh 
period of industrial revival." Fine comfort for the mil- 
lions of the working class, who suffer from unemployment 
and reduced wages! You may search in vain in the list of 
state expenditures for the slightest hint of the millions and 

* Witte himself was aware of the clumsiness of his arguments 
in regard to "assets" and therefore, elsewhere in his report, he tried 
to improve the impression by saying that the growing value of state 
assets "has no particular significance with respect to the commitments 
of the Russian Treasury, since Russia's credit does not stand in need 
of special guarantees". Of course not! But a detailed account with a 
list of these special guarantees was left ... just in case! 



tens of millions that the Treasury has wasted on direct and 
indirect support of the industrial enterprises "suffering" 
from the crisis. What gigantic sums are involved in such 
support may be seen from press reports to the effect that 
the total sum of the loans granted by the State Bank be- 
tween January 1, 1899 and January 1, 1901 increased from 
250 million to 449 million rubles, and that industrial 
loans increased from 8,700,000 to 38,800,000 rubles. Even 
the loss of four million rubles from industrial loans did 
not cause the Treasury any difficulty. And as for the workers 
who have sacrificed on the altar of "industrial success", 
not the contents of their purse, but their lives and the 
lives of the millions dependent on them, the Treasury helped 
these workers by sending thousands of them from the indus- 
trial towns to the starving villages "free of charge"! 

Witte avoids the word "famine" altogether, assuring us 
in his report that the "detrimental effects of the poor har- 
vest ... will be mitigated by generous help to the needy". 
This generous help, according to him, amounts to 20 mil- 
lion rubles, while the deficit in the harvest is estimated at 
250 million rubles (if one takes as the base the very low 
price of 50 kopeks a pood, compared, however, with the 
years of favourable harvests). Indeed, how very "gener- 
ous"! Even if we assume that only a half of the losses is 
borne by the poor peasantry, it will still become evident 
that we underestimated the greed of the Russian Govern- 
ment, when we wrote (in re Sipyagin's circular; see Iskra, 
No. 9)* that the government was cutting relief loans down 
to one-fifth. The Russian Tsar is generous, not in his aid to 
the peasant, but in his police measures directed against 
those who really wanted to help the famine-stricken. He is 
also generous in squandering millions in order to grab an 
appetising slice in China. In two years, Witte informs us, 
80 million rubles went in extraordinary expenditure on 
the war in China and "in addition very substantial sums 
were expended from the ordinary budget". This means that 
anything up to 100 million rubles was expended, if not 
more! The unemployed worker and the starving peasant 

See present volume, pp. 231-38. — Ed. 



may take comfort from the fact that Manchuria is almost 
sure to be ours.... 

Lack of space keeps us from dealing at length with the 
remaining parts of the report. Witte also defends himself 
against the charge of scantiness in the disbursements on 
public education: to the 36 million rubles of the estimate 
of the Ministry of Public Education he adds the disburse- 
ments of other ministries on education and "cooks up" the 
figure of 75 million rubles. But even this figure (of doubtful 
veracity) is extremely miserable for the whole of Russia, 
representing less than five per cent of the total budget. 

The fact that "our state budget is organised mainly on 
the basis of a system of indirect taxation" is considered by 
Witte to be an advantage, and he repeats the stale bourgeois 
arguments on the possibility of "adjusting the consumption 
of taxed articles to accord with the degree of prosperity". 
In actual fact, however, it is notorious that indirect taxa- 
tion affecting articles of mass consumption is distinguished 
by its extreme injustice. The entire burden is placed on the 
shoulders of the poor, while it creates a privilege for the 
rich. The poorer a man is, the greater the share of his income 
that goes to the state in the form of indirect taxes. The 
masses who own little or nothing constitute nine-tenths of 
the population, consume nine-tenths of the taxed items, 
and pay nine-tenths of the total of all indirect taxes, while 
they receive no more than two- or three-tenths of the 
national income. 

In conclusion, an interesting "trifle". On which items 
were expenditures most of all increased from 1901 to 1902? 
The total expenditures increased from 1,788 million to 
1,946 million rubles, that is, by less than one-tenth. Never- 
theless, expenditures on two items increased by nearly a 
quarter: from 9,800,000 to 12,800,000 rubles "for the main- 
tenance of members of the royal family" and ... "for the 
maintenance of the special corps of gendarmes" from 
3,960,000 to 4,940,000 rubles. We have here the answer to 
the question: What are "the most urgent needs of the Russian 
people"? And what touching "unity" between the tsar and 
the gendarmes! 

Iskra, No. 15, January 15, 1902 

Published according to 
the Iskra text 



Let us begin with an illustration. 

The reader will remember the sensation that was creat- 
ed by the speech delivered by M. A. Stakhovich, 
Marshal of the Nobility of Orel Gubernia, at a missionary 
congress, in the course of which he urged that freedom of 
conscience be recognised by law. The conservative press, 
led by Moskovskiye Vedomosti, is conducting a furious cam- 
paign against Mr. Stakhovich. It cannot find names vile 
enough with which to call him and almost goes so far as 
to accuse the entire Orel nobility of high treason for hav- 
ing re-elected Mr. Stakhovich as Marshal. Now, this 
re-election is indeed very significant and to a certain degree 
it bears the character of a demonstration of the nobility 
against police tyranny and outrage. 

Stakhovich, says Moskovskiye Vedomosti, "is not so much 
Marshal of the Nobility, as the oh, so gay Misha Stakh- 
ovich, the life and soul of the party, the clever conver- 
sationalist..." (No. 348, 1901). So much the worse for you, 
gentlemen, defenders of the bludgeon. If even our jovial 
landlords begin to talk about freedom of conscience, then 
the infamies of the priests and the police must verily be 
without number.... 

"What does our 'intellectual', frivolous crowd that insti- 
gates and applauds the Stakhoviches care for the affairs 
of our sacred orthodox faith and our time-honoured attitude 
towards it?"... Once again, so much the worse for you, gen- 
tlemen, champions of the autocracy, the orthodox faith, 
and the national essence. A fine system indeed our police- 
ridden autocracy must be, if it has permeated even reli- 



gion with the spirit of the prison-cell, so that the "Stakho- 
viches" (who have no firm convictions in matters of reli- 
gion, but who are interested, as we shall see, in preserv- 
ing a stable religion) become utterly indifferent (if not 
actually hostile) to this notorious "national" faith. "...They 
call our faith a delusion!! They mock at us because, thanks 
to this 'delusion', we fear and try to avoid sin and we carry 
out our obligations uncomplainingly, no matter how severe 
they may be; because we find the strength and courage to 
bear sorrow and privations and forbear pride in times of 
success and good fortune...." So! The orthodox faith is 
dear to them because it teaches people to bear misery 
"uncomplainingly". What a profitable faith it is indeed for 
the governing classes! In a society so organised that an 
insignificant minority enjoys wealth and power, while 
the masses constantly suffer "privations" and bear "severe 
obligations", it is quite natural for the exploiters to sym- 
pathise with a religion that teaches people to bear "uncom- 
plainingly" the hell on earth for the sake of an alleged ce- 
lestial paradise. But in its zeal Moskovskiye Vedomosti 
became too garrulous. So garrulous, in fact, that unwittingly 
it spoke the truth. We read on: "... They do not suspect 
that if they, the Stakhoviches, eat well, sleep peacefully, 
and live merrily, it is thanks to this 'delusion'." 

The sacred truth! This is precisely the case. It is because 
religious "delusions" are so widespread among the masses 
that the Stakhoviches and the Oblomovs, 132 and all our 
capitalists who live by the labour of the masses, and even 
Moskovskiye Vedomosti itself, "sleep peacefully". And the 
more education spreads among the people, the more will re- 
ligious prejudices give way to socialist consciousness, 
the nearer will be the day of victory for the proletariat — the 
victory that will emancipate all oppressed classes from 
the slavery they endure in modern society. 

But having blurted out the truth on one point, Moskov- 
skiye Vedomosti disposed, far too easily, of another inter- 
esting point. It is obviously mistaken in believing that 
the Stakhoviches "do not realise" the significance of reli- 
gion, and that they demand liberal forms out of sheer 
"thoughtlessness". Such an interpretation of a hostile polit- 
ical trend is too childishly nai've. The fact that in this 


instance Mr. Stakhovich came forward as advocate of the 
entire liberal trend was proved best of all by Moskovskiye 
Vedomosti itself; otherwise, what need was there for waging 
such a campaign against a single speech? What need was 
there for speaking, not about Stakhovich, but about the 
Stakhoviches, about the "intellectual crowd"? 

Moskovskiye Vedomosti 's error was, of course, deliberate. 
That paper is more unwilling than it is unable to analyse 
the liberalism it hates from the class point of view. 
That it does not desire to do so goes without saying; but 
its inability to do so interests us very much more, because 
this is a complaint that even very many revolutionaries and 
socialists suffer from. Thus, the authors of the letter pub- 
lished in No. 12 of Iskra, who accuse us of departing from the 
"class point of view" for striving in our newspaper to follow 
all manifestations of liberal discontent and protest, suffer 
from this complaint, as do also the authors of Proletar- 
skaya Borba 13S and of several pamphlets in "The Social- 
Democratic Library", 134 who imagine that our autocracy 
represents the absolutist rule of the bourgeoisie; likewise 
the Martynovs, who seek to persuade us to abandon the 
many-sided campaign of exposure (i.e., the widest possible 
political agitation) against the autocracy and to concen- 
trate our efforts mainly upon the struggle for economic re- 
forms (to give something "positive" to the working class, to 
put forward in its name "concrete demands" for legislative 
and administrative measures "which promise certain palpable 
results"); likewise, too, the Nadezhdins, who, on reading 
the correspondence in our paper on the statistical conflicts, 
ask in astonishment: "Good Lord, what is this — a Zemstvo 

All these socialists forget that the interests of the autoc- 
racy coincide only with certain interests of the proper- 
tied classes, and only under certain circumstances; fre- 
quently it happens that its interests do not coincide with 
the interests of these classes as a whole, but only with those 
of certain of their strata. The interests of other bourgeois 
strata and the more widely understood interests of the 
entire bourgeoisie, of the development of capitalism 
as a whole, necessarily give rise to a liberal opposition to 
the autocracy. For instance, the autocracy guarantees the 



bourgeoisie opportunities to employ the crudest forms of 
exploitation, but, on the other hand, places a thousand 
obstacles in the way of the extensive development of the 
productive forces and the spread of education; in this way it 
arouses against itself, not only the petty bourgeoisie, but at 
times even the big bourgeoisie. The autocracy guarantees (?) 
the bourgeoisie protection against socialism, but since the 
people are deprived of rights, this protection is necessarily 
transformed into a system of police outrages that rouse the 
indignation of the entire people. What the result of these 
antagonistic tendencies is, what relative strength of con- 
servative and liberal views, or trends, among the bourgeoi- 
sie obtains at the present moment, cannot be learned from a 
couple of general theses, for this depends on all the special 
features of the social and political situation at a given 
moment. To determine this, one must study the situation in 
detail and carefully watch all the conflicts with the govern- 
ment, no matter by what social stratum they are initiated. 
It is precisely the "class point of view" that makes it imper- 
missible for a Social-Democrat to remain indifferent to the 
discontent and the protests of the "Stakhoviches". 

The reasoning and activity of the above-mentioned so- 
cialists show that they are indifferent to liberalism and 
thus reveal their incomprehension of the basic theses of 
the Communist Manifesto, the "Gospel" of international 
Social-Democracy. Let us recall, for instance, the words 
that the bourgeoisie itself provides material for the polit- 
ical education of the proletariat by its struggle for power, 
by the conflicts of various strata and groups within it, 
etc. 135 Only in politically free countries has the proletar- 
iat easy access to this material (and then only to part of it). 
In enslaved Russia, however, we Social-Democrats must 
work hard to obtain this "material" for the working class, 
i.e., we must ourselves undertake the task of conducting 
general political agitation, of carrying on a public 
exposure campaign against the autocracy. This task is 
particularly imperative in periods of political ferment. We 
must bear in mind that in one year of intensified political 
life the proletariat can obtain more revolutionary training 
than in several years of political calm. For this reason the 
tendency of the above-mentioned socialists consciously or 


unconsciously to restrict the scope and content of political 
agitation is particularly harmful. 

Let us recall also the words that the Communists support 
every revolutionary movement against the existing system. 
Those words are often interpreted too narrowly, and are not 
taken to imply support for the liberal opposition. It must 
not be forgotten, however, that there are periods when 
every conflict with the government arising out of progressive 
social interests, however small, may under certain condi- 
tions (of which our support is one) flare up into a general 
conflagration. Suffice it to recall the great social movement 
which developed in Russia out of the struggle between the 
students and the government over academic demands, 136 
or the conflict that arose in France between all the progres- 
sive elements and the militarists over a trial in which the 
verdict had been rendered on the basis of forged evidence. 137 
Hence, it is our bounden duty to explain to the pro- 
letariat every liberal and democratic protest, to widen and 
support it, with the active participation of the workers, 
be it a conflict between the Zemstvo and the Ministry of 
the Interior, between the nobility and the police regime 
of the Orthodox Church, between statisticians and the 
bureaucrats, between peasants and the "Zemstvo" offi- 
cials, between religious sects and the rural police, etc., 
etc. Those who contemptuously turn up their noses at the 
slight importance of some of these conflicts, or at the 
"hopelessness" of the attempts to fan them into a general 
conflagration, do not realise that all-sided political agi- 
tation is a focus in which the vital interests of political 
education of the proletariat coincide with the vital inter- 
ests of social development as a whole, of the entire people, 
that is, of all its democratic elements. It is our direct duty to 
concern ourselves with every liberal question, to determine 
our Social-Democratic attitude towards it, to help the pro- 
letariat to take an active part in its solution and to accom- 
plish the solution in its own, proletarian way. Those who 
refrain from concerning themselves in this way (whatever 
their intentions) in actuality leave the liberals in command, 
place in their hands the political education of the workers, 
and concede the hegemony in the political struggle to elements 
which, in the final analysis, are leaders of bourgeois democracy. 



The class character of the Social-Democratic movement 
must not be expressed in the restriction of our tasks to the 
direct and immediate needs of the "labour movement pure 
and simple". It must be expressed in our leadership of every 
aspect and every manifestation of the great struggle for 
liberation that is being waged by the proletariat, the only 
truly revolutionary class in modern society. Social-Democ- 
racy must constantly and unswervingly spread the influence 
of the labour movement to all spheres of the social and 
political life of contemporary society. It must lead, not 
only the economic, but also the political, struggle of the 
proletariat. It must never for a moment lose sight of our 
ultimate goal, but always carry on propaganda for the pro- 
letarian ideology — the theory of scientific socialism, 
viz., Marxism — guard it against distortion, and develop 
it further. We must untiringly combat any and every bour- 
geois ideology, regardless of the fashionable and striking 
garb in which it may drape itself. The socialists we have 
mentioned above depart from the "class" point of view also 
because, and to the extent that, they remain indifferent 
to the task of combating the "criticism of Marxism". Only 
the blind fail to see that this "criticism" has taken root 
more rapidly in Russia than in any other country, and has 
been more enthusiastically taken up by Russian liberal 
propaganda than by any other, precisely for the reason that 
it is one of the elements of the bourgeois (now consciously 
bourgeois) democracy now in formation in Russia. 

It is particularly in regard to the political struggle that 
the "class point of view" demands that the proletariat give 
an impetus to every democratic movement. The political 
demands of working-class democracy do not differ in prin- 
ciple from those of bourgeois democracy, they differ only 
in degree. In the struggle for economic emancipation, for 
the socialist revolution, the proletariat stands on a basis 
different in principle and it stands alone (the small pro- 
ducer will come to its aid only to the extent that he enters, 
or is preparing to enter, its ranks). In the struggle for polit- 
ical liberation, however, we have many allies, towards 
whom we must not remain indifferent. But while our allies 
in the bourgeois-democratic camp, in struggling for liberal 
reforms, will always glance back and seek to adjust matters 


so that they will be able, as before, "to eat well, sleep peace- 
fully, and live merrily" at other people's expense, the pro- 
letariat will march forward to the end, without looking 
back. While the confreres of R. N. S. (author of the preface 
to Witte's Memorandum) haggle with the government over 
the rights of the authoritative Zemstvo, or over a consti- 
tution, we will struggle for the democratic republic. We 
will not forget, however, that if we want to push someone 
forward, we must continuously keep our hands on that 
someone's shoulders. The party of the proletariat must 
learn to catch every liberal just at the moment when he is 
prepared to move forward an inch, and make him move 
forward a yard. If he is obdurate, we will go forward without 
him and over him. 

Iskra, No. 16, February 1, 1902 

Published according to 
the Iskra text 



The following letter has been received by the Editorial 

"In dealing with the question of agitation (if I am not mistaken, 
in No. 13) Iskra opposes agitational leaflets (pamphlets of two or 
three pages) on political subjects. In the opinion of the editors, news- 
papers can successfully replace such literature. Newspapers are, of 
course, a fine thing. Nobody would dream of disputing that. But can 
they replace leaflets that are specially intended for widespread distri- 
bution among the masses? The editors have received a letter from Rus- 
sia in which a group of workers-agitators gave their opinion on this 
subject. Iskra s reply is obviously due to a misunderstanding. The 
question of agitation is as important today as the question of demon- 
strations. It is, therefore, to be desired that the editors raise this 
question once again and on this occasion devote to it greater attention. 

"A Reader" 

Anyone who takes the trouble to read our reply to the 
letter from "Southern Workers" in No. 13 of Iskra* together 
with this letter will easily convince himself that it is pre- 
cisely the author of the letter who labours under an obvious 
misunderstanding. There was no question of Iskra's "oppos- 
ing agitational leaflets"; it never entered anyone's head 
that a newspaper could "replace leaflets". Our correspondent 
did not notice that leaflets are in fact proclamations. Such 
literature as proclamations cannot be replaced by 
anything and will always be absolutely essential — on 
this point the "Southern Workers" and Iskra are in 
full accord. But they are also agreed that this type of litera- 
ture is not sufficient. If we speak of good housing for the 
workers and at the same time say that good food is not enough 

See present volume, p. 326. — Ed. 



for them, that would hardly be taken to mean that we are 
"against" good food. The question is — which is the highest 
form of agitational literature? The "Southern Workers" 
did not say a word about the newspaper when they raised 
this question. Their silence could, of course, have been due 
to local circumstances, but we, although we did not in the 
least wish to enter into "disputes" with our correspondents, 
naturally could not refrain from reminding them that the 
proletariat should also organise its own newspaper just 
as the other classes of the population have done, that 
fragmentary work alone is not enough, and that the regu- 
lar, active, and general work of all localities for a revolu- 
tionary organ is essential. 

As far as the three- or four-page pamphlets are con- 
cerned, we did not speak "against" them in the least, but 
merely doubted the practicability of a plan to develop them 
into regular literature distributed "simultaneously through- 
out Russia". If they consist of three or four pages, they 
will be, essentially, only proclamations. In all parts of 
Russia we have many very good proclamations that are 
not in the least heavy reading, both student and workers' 
proclamations, that sometimes run to six or eight small 
pages. A really popular pamphlet, capable of explaining 
even one single question to a completely unprepared worker, 
would probably be much bigger in size and there would be 
no need and no possibility of distributing it "simultaneously 
throughout Russia" (since it is not only of topical signif- 
icance). Fully recognising, as we do, every variety of political 
literature, old and new, so long as it is really good politi- 
cal literature, we would advise working, not upon an 
invention of a midway type of agitational medium — 
something between leaflet and popular pamphlet, but for 
a revolutionary organ that really deserves the name of 
periodical (appearing, not once, but at least two or four 
times, a month) and which is an AZZ-Russian organ. 

Iskra, No. 16, February 1, 1902 

Published according to 
the Iskra text 



"...Party struggles lend a party 
strength and vitality; the greatest 
proof of a party's weakness is its 
diffuseness and the blurring of clear 
demarcations; a party becomes strong- 
er by purging itself...." 

(From a letter of Lassalle to Marx, 

of June 24, 1852) 

Written between the autumn of 1901 Published according to the text 

and February 1902 of the book checked with that 

First published as a separate work in the collection Twelve Years, 

in March 1902 by VI. Ilyin, 1907 

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Cover of Lenin's What Is To Be Done? 1902 



According to the author's original plan, the present 
pamphlet was to have been devoted to a detailed develop- 
ment of the ideas expressed in the article "Where To Begin" 
(Iskra, No. 4, May 1901).* We must first apologise to the 
reader for the delay in fulfilling the promise made in that 
article (and repeated in response to many private inquiries 
and letters). One of the reasons for this delay was the attempt, 
undertaken in June of the past year (1901), to unite all 
the Social-Democratic organisations abroad. It was natural 
to wait for the results of this attempt, for, had the effort 
proved successful, it would perhaps have been necessary to 
expound Iskras conceptions of organisation from a some- 
what different approach; in any case, such a success prom- 
ised to put an end very quickly to the existence of the 
two trends in the Russian Social-Democratic movement. 
As the reader knows, the attempt failed, and, as we propose 
to show, was bound to fail after the new swing of Rabo- 
chaya Dyelo, in its issue No. 10, towards Economism. It 
was found to be absolutely essential to begin a determined 
struggle against this trend, diffuse and ill-defined, but for 
that reason the more persistent, the more capable of reassert- 
ing itself in diverse forms. Accordingly, the original plan of 
the pamphlet was altered and considerably enlarged. 

Its main theme was to have been the three questions 
raised in the article "Where To Begin" — the character and 
main content of our political agitation; our organisational 
tasks; and the plan for building, simultaneously and from 
various sides, a militant, All-Russian organisation. These 
questions have long engaged the mind of the author, who 

See present volume, pp. 13-24. — Ed. 



tried to raise them in Rabochaya Gazeta 139 during one of 
the unsuccessful attempts to revive that paper (see Chap- 
ter V). But the original plan to confine the pamphlet to an 
analysis of only these three questions and to set forth our 
views as far as possible in a positive form, without, or 
almost without, entering into polemics, proved wholly 
impracticable, for two reasons. On the one hand, Econo- 
mism proved to be much more tenacious than we had sup- 
posed [we employ the term Economism in the broad sense, 
as explained in Iskra, No. 12 (December 1901), in the 
article entitled "A Talk With Defenders of Economism", 
which was a synopsis, so to speak, of the present pam- 
phlet*]. It became clear beyond doubt that the differences re- 
garding the solution of the three questions mentioned were 
explainable to a far greater degree by the basic antithesis 
between the two trends in the Russian Social-Democratic 
movement than by differences over details. On the other 
hand, the perplexity of the Economists over the practical 
application of our views in Iskra clearly revealed that we 
often speak literally in different tongues and therefore 
cannot arrive at an understanding without beginning ab ovo, 
and that an attempt must be made, in the simplest possible 
style, illustrated by numerous and concrete examples, 
systematically to "clarify" all our basic points of difference 
with all the Economists. I resolved to make such an attempt 
at "clarification", fully realising that it would greatly in- 
crease the size of the pamphlet and delay its publication; 
I saw no other way of meeting my pledge I had made in 
the article "Where To Begin". Thus, to the apologies for the 
delay, I must add others for the serious literary short- 
comings of the pamphlet. I had to work in great haste, 
with frequent interruptions by a variety of other tasks. 

The examination of the above three questions still con- 
stitutes the main theme of this pamphlet, but I found it 
necessary to begin with two questions of a more general 
nature — why such an "innocent" and "natural" slogan as 
"freedom of criticism" should be for us a veritable war-cry, 
and why we cannot come to an understanding even on the 
fundamental question of the role of Social-Democrats in 

See present volume, pp. 313-20. — Ed. 



relation to the spontaneous mass movement. Further, the 
exposition of our views on the character and substance of 
political agitation developed into an explanation of the 
difference between trade-unionist politics and Social-Demo- 
cratic politics, while the exposition of our views on organ- 
isational tasks developed into an explanation of the differ- 
ence between the amateurish methods which satisfy the 
Economists, and the organisation of revolutionaries which 
we hold to be indispensable. Further, I advance the "plan" 
for an All-Russian political newspaper with all the more 
insistence because the objections raised against it are 
untenable, and because no real answer has been given to 
the question I raised in the article '"Where To Begin" as to 
how we can set to work from all sides simultaneously to 
create the organisation we need. Finally, in the concluding 
part, I hope to show that we did all we could to prevent a 
decisive break with the Economists, a break which never- 
theless proved inevitable; that Rabochaya Dyelo acquired a 
special significance, a "historical" significance, if you will, 
because it expressed fully and strikingly, not consistent 
Economism, but the confusion and vacillation which consti- 
tute the distinguishing feature of an entire period in the 
history of Russian Social-Democracy; and that therefore the 
polemic with Rabochaya Dyelo, which may upon first view 
seem excessively detailed, also acquires significance, for 
we can make no progress until we have completely put an 
end to this period. 

N. Lenin 

February 1902 





"Freedom of criticism" is undoubtedly the most fashion- 
able slogan at the present time, and the one most frequently 
employed in the controversies between socialists and dem- 
ocrats in all countries. At first sight, nothing would 
appear to be more strange than the solemn appeals to free- 
dom of criticism made by one of the parties to the dispute. 
Have voices been raised in the advanced parties against the 
constitutional law of the majority of European countries 
which guarantees freedom to science and scientific investi- 
gation? "Something must be wrong here," will be the com- 
ment of the onlooker who has heard this fashionable slo- 
gan repeated at every turn but has not yet penetrated the 
essence of the disagreement among the disputants; "evidently 
this slogan is one of the conventional phrases which, like 
nicknames, become legitimised by use, and become almost 
generic terms." 

In fact, it is no secret for anyone that two trends have 
taken form in present-day international* Social-Democ- 

* Incidentally, in the history of modern socialism this is a phenom- 
enon, perhaps unique and in its way very consoling, namely, that 
the strife of the various trends within the socialist movement has 
from national become international. Formerly, the disputes between 
Lassalleans and Eisenachers, 140 between Guesdists and Possibilists, 141 
between Fabians and Social-Democrats, and between Narodnaya 
Volya adherents and Social-Democrats, remained confined within 
purely national frameworks, reflecting purely national features, and 
proceeding, as it were, on different planes. At the present time (as is 
now evident), the English Fabians, the French Ministerialists, the 



racy. The conflict between these trends now flares up in 
a bright flame and now dies down and smoulders under the 
ashes of imposing "truce resolutions". The essence of the 
"new" trend, which adopts a "critical" attitude towards 
"obsolete dogmatic" Marxism, has been clearly enough 
presented by Bernstein and demonstrated by Millerand. 

Social-Democracy must change from a party of social 
revolution into a democratic party of social reforms. Bern- 
stein has surrounded this political demand with a whole 
battery of well-attuned "new" arguments and reasonings. 
Denied was the possibility of putting socialism on a scientif- 
ic basis and of demonstrating its necessity and inevitabil- 
ity from the point of view of the materialist conception of 
history. Denied was the fact of growing impoverishment, 
the process of proletarisation, and the intensification of 
capitalist contradictions; the very concept, "ultimate aim", 
was declared to be unsound, and the idea of the dictator- 
ship of the proletariat was completely rejected. Denied was 
the antithesis in principle between liberalism and social- 
ism. Denied was the theory of the class struggle, on 
the alleged grounds that it could not be applied to a strictly 
democratic society governed according to the will of the 
majority, etc. 

Thus, the demand for a decisive turn from revolutionary 
Social-Democracy to bourgeois social-reformism was ac- 
companied by a no less decisive turn towards bourgeois 
criticism of all the fundamental ideas of Marxism. In view 
of the fact that this criticism of Marxism has long been 
directed from the political platform, from university chairs, 
in numerous pamphlets and in a series of learned treatises, 
in view of the fact that the entire younger generation of 
the educated classes has been systematically reared for 
decades on this criticism, it is not surprising that the "new 
critical" trend in Social-Democracy should spring up, all 

German Bernsteinians, and the Russian Critics — all belong to the 
same family, all extol each other, learn from each other, and together 
take up arms against "dogmatic" Marxism. In this first really inter- 
national battle with socialist opportunism, international revolution- 
ary Social-Democracy will perhaps become sufficiently strengthened 
to put an end to the political reaction that has long reigned in Eu- 



complete, like Minerva from the head of Jove. The content 
of this new trend did not have to grow and take shape, it 
was transferred bodily from bourgeois to socialist literature. 

To proceed. If Bernstein's theoretical criticism and polit- 
ical yearnings were still unclear to anyone, the French 
took the trouble strikingly to demonstrate the "new method". 
In this instance, too, France has justified its old reputation 
of being "the land where, more than anywhere else, the 
historical class struggles were each time fought out to a 
decision..." (Engels, Introduction to Marx's Der 18 Bru- 
maire). 142 The French socialists have begun, not to theo- 
rise, but to act. The democratically more highly developed 
political conditions in France have permitted them to put 
"Bernsteinism into practice" immediately, with all its 
consequences. Millerand has furnished an excellent example 
of practical Bernsteinism; not without reason did Bernstein 
and Vollmar rush so zealously to defend and laud him. In- 
deed, if Social-Democracy, in essence, is merely a party of 
reform and must be bold enough to admit this openly, then 
not only has a socialist the right to join a bourgeois cabinet, 
but he must always strive to do so. If democracy, in essence, 
means the abolition of class domination, then why should 
not a socialist minister charm the whole bourgeois world by 
orations on class collaboration? Why should he not remain in 
the cabinet even after the shooting-down of workers by gen- 
darmes has exposed, for the hundredth and thousandth 
time, the real nature of the democratic collaboration of 
classes? Why should he not personally take part in greeting 
the tsar, for whom the French socialists now have no other 
name than hero of the gallows, knout, and exile (knouteur, 
pendeur et deportateur)! And the reward for this utter humili- 
ation and self-degradation of socialism in the face of the 
whole world, for the corruption of the socialist consciousness 
of the working masses — the only basis that can guarantee our 
victory — the reward for this is pompous projects for 
miserable reforms, so miserable in fact that much more 
has been obtained from bourgeois governments! 

He who does not deliberately close his eyes cannot fail to 
see that the new "critical" trend in socialism is nothing 
more nor less than a new variety of opportunism. And if 
we judge people, not by the glittering uniforms they don or 



by the high-sounding appellations they give themselves, 
but by their actions and by what they actually advocate, 
it will be clear that "freedom of criticism" means freedom 
for an opportunist trend in Social-Democracy, freedom to 
convert Social-Democracy into a democratic party of reform, 
freedom to introduce bourgeois ideas and bourgeois elements 
into socialism. 

"Freedom" is a grand word, but under the banner of 
freedom for industry the most predatory wars were waged, 
under the banner of freedom of labour, the working people 
were robbed. The modern use of the term "freedom of crit- 
icism" contains the same inherent falsehood. Those who are 
really convinced that they have made progress in science 
would not demand freedom for the new views to continue 
side by side with the old, but the substitution of the new 
views for the old. The cry heard today, "Long live freedom of 
criticism", is too strongly reminiscent of the fable of the 
empty barrel. 

We are marching in a compact group along a precipitous 
and difficult path, firmly holding each other by the hand. 
We are surrounded on all sides by enemies, and we have to ad- 
vance almost constantly under their fire. We have combined, 
by a freely adopted decision, for the purpose of fighting the 
enemy, and not of retreating into the neighbouring marsh, the 
inhabitants of which, from the very outset, have reproached 
us with having separated ourselves into an exclusive 
group and with having chosen the path of struggle instead 
of the path of conciliation. And now some among us begin to 
cry out: Let us go into the marsh! And when we begin to 
shame them, they retort: What backward people you are! 
Are you not ashamed to deny us the liberty to invite you 
to take a better road! Oh, yes, gentlemen! You are free not 
only to invite us, but to go yourselves wherever you will, 
even into the marsh. In fact, we think that the marsh is your 
proper place, and we are prepared to render you every 
assistance to get there. Only let go of our hands, don't 
clutch at us and don't besmirch the grand word freedom, 
for we too are "free" to go where we please, free to fight not 
only against the marsh, but also against those who are 
turning towards the marsh! 




Now, this slogan ("freedom of criticism") has in recent 
times been solemnly advanced by Rabocheye Dyelo (No. 
10), organ of the Union of Russian Social-Democrats Abroad, 
not as a theoretical postulate, but as a political demand, as 
a reply to the question, "Is it possible to unite the Social- 
Democratic organisations operating abroad?": "For a 
durable unity, there must be freedom of criticism" (p. 36). 

From this statement two definite conclusions follow: 
(1) that Rabocheye Dyelo has taken under its wing the oppor- 
tunist trend in international Social-Democracy in general, 
and (2) that Rabocheye Dyelo demands freedom for opportun- 
ism in Russian Social-Democracy. Let us examine these 

Rabocheye Dyelo is "particularly" displeased with the 
"inclination of Iskra and Zarya to predict a rupture be- 
tween the Mountain and the Gironde in international Social- 

"Generally speaking," writes B. Krichevsky, editor of Rabocheye 
Dyelo, "this talk of the Mountain and the Gironde heard in the ranks 
of Social-Democracy represents a shallow historical analogy, a strange 
thing to come from the pen of a Marxist. The Mountain and the Gi- 
ronde did not represent different temperaments, or intellectual trends, 
as the historians of social thought may think, but different classes 
or strata — the middle bourgeoisie, on the one hand, and the petty 
bourgeoisie and the proletariat, on the other. In the modern socialist 
movement, however, there is no conflict of class interests; the social- 
ist movement in its entirety, in all of its diverse forms (Krichevsky's 
italics), including the most pronounced Bernsteinians, stands on the 
basis of the class interests of the proletariat and its class struggle 
for political and economic emancipation" (pp. 32-33). 

* A comparison of the two trends within the revolutionary pro- 
letariat (the revolutionary and the opportunist), and the two trends 
within the revolutionary bourgeoisie in the eighteenth century (the 
Jacobin, known as the Mountain, and the Girondist) was made in the 
leading article in No. 2 of Iskra (February 1901). The article was 
written by Plekhanov. The Cadets, 143 the Bezzaglavtsi, 144 and the 
Mensheviks to this day love to refer to Jacobinism in Russian Social- 
Democracy. But how Plekhanov came to apply this concept for the 
first time against the Right wing of Social-Democracy— about this they 
prefer to keep silent or to forget. (Author's note to the 1907 edition— 



A bold assertion! Has not Krichevsky heard of the fact, 
long ago noted, that it is precisely the extensive participa- 
tion of an "academic" stratum in the socialist movement in 
recent years that has promoted such a rapid spread of 
Bernsteinism? And what is most important — on what 
does our author found his opinion that even "the most pro- 
nounced Bernsteinians" stand on the basis of the class 
struggle for the political and economic emancipation of 
the proletariat? No one knows. This determined defence of 
the most pronounced Bernsteinians is not supported by any 
argument or reasoning whatever. Apparently, the author 
believes that if he repeats what the most pronounced Bern- 
steinians say about themselves his assertion requires no 
proof. But can anything more "shallow" be imagined than 
this judgement of an entire trend based on nothing more 
than what the representatives of that trend say about them- 
selves? Can anything more shallow be imagined than the 
subsequent "homily" on the two different and even diamet- 
rically opposite types, or paths, of party development? 
(Rabocheye Dyelo, pp. 34-35.) The German Social-Democrats, 
in other words, recognise complete freedom of criticism, but 
the French do not, and it is precisely their example that 
demonstrates the "bane of intolerance". 

To this we can only say that the very example B. Kri- 
chevsky affords us attests to the fact that the name Marx- 
ists is at times assumed by people who conceive history 
literally in the "Ilovaisky manner". 145 To explain the 
unity of the German Socialist Party and the disunity of 
the French Socialist Party, there is no need whatever to 
go into the special features in the history of these countries, 
to contrast the conditions of military semi-absolutism in the 
one with republican parliamentarism in the other, to ana- 
lyse the effects of the Paris Commune and the effects of the 
Exceptional Law Against the Socialists, to compare the 
economic life and economic development of the two coun- 
tries, or to recall that "the unexampled growth of German 
Social-Democracy" was accompanied by a strenuous struggle, 
unique in the history of socialism, not only against erroneous 
theories (Miihlberger, Diihring,* the Katheder-Socia\ists li6 ), 

* At the time Engels dealt his blows at Diihring, many repre- 
sentatives of German Social-Democracy inclined towards the latter's 



but also against erroneous tactics (Lassalle), etc., etc. All 
that is superfluous! The French quarrel among themselves 
because they are intolerant; the Germans are united because 
they are good boys. 

And observe, this piece of matchless profundity is de- 
signed to "refute" the fact that puts to rout the defence of 
the Bernsteinians. The question whether or not the Bern- 
steinians stand on the basis of the class struggle of the pro- 
letariat is one that can be completely and irrevocably an- 
swered only by historical experience. Consequently, the 
example of France holds greatest significance in this respect, 
because France is the only country in which the Bernstein- 
ians attempted to stand independently, on their own feet, 
with the warm approval of their German colleagues (and 
partly also of the Russian opportunists; cf. Rabocheye 
Dyelo, No. 2-3, pp. 83-84). The reference to the "intol- 
erance" of the French, apart from its "historical" signif- 
icance (in the Nozdryov 147 sense), turns out to be merely an 
attempt to hush up very unpleasant facts with angry invec- 

Nor are we inclined to make a present of the Germans to 
Krichevsky and the numerous other champions of "freedom 
of criticism". If the "most pronounced Bernsteinians" are 
still tolerated in the ranks of the German party, it is only 
to the extent that they submit to the Hanover resolution, 148 
which emphatically rejected Bernstein's "amendments", 
and to the Liibeck resolution, which (notwithstanding 
the diplomatic terms in which it is couched) contains a 
direct warning to Bernstein. It is debatable, from the 

views, and accusations of acerbity, intolerance, uncomradely polem- 
ics, etc., were hurled at Engels even publicly at a Party Congress. 
At the Congress of 1877, Most, and his supporters, introduced a reso- 
lution to prohibit the publication of Engels's articles in Vorwdrts be- 
cause "they do not interest the overwhelming majority of the readers", 
and Vahlteich declared that their publication had caused great damage 
to the Party, that Diihring too had rendered services to Social-Democ- 
racy: "We must utilise everyone in the interests of the Party; let 
the professors engage in polemics if they care to do so, but Vorwdrts 
is not the place in which to conduct them" (Vorwdrts, No. 65, June 6, 
1877). Here we have another example of the defence of "freedom of 
criticism", and our legal critics and illegal opportunists, who love so 
much to cite the example of the Germans, would do well to ponder it! 



standpoint of the interests of the German party, whether 
diplomacy was appropriate and whether, in this case, a bad 
peace is better than a good quarrel; in short, opinions may 
differ as to the expediency of any one of the methods em- 
ployed to reject Bernsteinism, but that the German party 
did reject Bernsteinism on two occasions, is a fact no one can 
fail to see. Therefore, to think that the German example 
confirms the thesis that "the most pronounced Bernstein- 
ians stand on the basis of the class struggle of the prole- 
tariat, for political and economic emancipation", means to 
fail completely to understand what is going on under 
our very eyes.* 

Nor is that all. As we have seen, Rabocheye Dyelo demands 
"freedom of criticism" and defends Bernsteinism before 
Russian Social-Democracy. Apparently it convinced itself 
that we were unfair to our "Critics" and Bernsteinians. But 
to which ones? who? where? when? What did the unfairness 
represent? About this, not a word. Rabocheye Dyelo does 
not name a single Russian Critic or Bernsteinian! We are 
left with but one of two possible suppositions. Either the un- 
fairly treated party is none other than Rabocheye Dyelo 
itself (this is confirmed by the fact that in the two articles 
in No. 10 reference is made only to the wrongs suffered by 
Rabocheye Dyelo at the hands of Zarya and Iskra). If that 

* It should be observed that Rabocheye Dyelo has always con- 
fined itself to a bare statement of facts concerning Bernsteinism in the 
German party and completely "refrained" from expressing its own opin- 
ion. See, for instance, the reports of the Stuttgart Congress 149 in 
No. 2-3 (p. 66), in which all the disagreements are reduced to "tactics" 
and the statement is merely made that the overwhelming majority re- 
main true to the previous revolutionary tactics. Or, No. 4-5 (p. 25, 
et seq.), in which we have nothing but a paraphrasing of the speeches 
delivered at the Hanover Congress, with a reprint of Bebel's res- 
olution. An exposition and a criticism of Bernstein's views are again 
put off (as was the case in No. 2-3) to be dealt with in a "special arti- 
cle". Curiously enough, in No. 4-5 (p. 33), we read the following: "... 
the views expounded by Bebel have the support of the vast majority 
of the Congress," and a few lines thereafter: "...David defended Bern- 
stein's views.... First of all, he tried to show that ... Bernstein and 
his friends, after all is said and done [sic!], stand on the basis of the 
class struggle..." This was written in December 1899, and in Septem- 
ber 1901 Rabocheye Dyelo, apparently no longer believing that Bebel 
was right, repeats David's views as, its own! 



is the case, how is the strange fact to be explained that 
Rabocheye Dyelo, which always vehemently dissociated itself 
from all solidarity with Bernsteinism, could not defend 
itself without putting in a word in defence of the "most 
pronounced Bernsteinians" and of freedom of criticism? Or 
some third persons have been treated unfairly. If this is the 
case, then what reasons may there be for not naming them? 

We see, therefore, that Rabocheye Dyelo is continuing to 
play the game of hide-and-seek it has played (as we shall 
show below) ever since its founding. And let us note further 
this first practical application of the vaunted "freedom of 
criticism". In actual fact, not only was it forthwith reduced 
to abstention from all criticism, but also to abstention from 
expressing independent views altogether. The very Rabo- 
cheye Dyelo, which avoids mentioning Russian Bernstein- 
ism as if it were a shameful disease (to use Starover's 150 
apt expression), proposes, for the treatment of this disease, 
to copy word for word the latest German prescription for the 
German variety of the malady! Instead of freedom of crit- 
icism — slavish (worse: apish) imitation! The very same 
social and political content of modern international oppor- 
tunism reveals itself in a variety of ways according to nation- 
al peculiarities. In one country the opportunists have long 
ago come out under a separate flag; in another, they have 
ignored theory and in fact pursued the policy of the Radi- 
cals-Socialists; in a third, some members of the revolution- 
ary party have deserted to the camp of opportunism and 
strive to achieve their aims, not in open struggle for prin- 
ciples and for new tactics, but by gradual, imperceptible, 
and, if one may so put it, unpunishable corruption of 
their party; in a fourth country, similar deserters employ 
the same methods in the gloom of political slavery, and with 
a completely original combination of "legal" and "illegal" 
activity, etc. To talk of freedom of criticism and of Bern- 
steinism as a condition for uniting the Russian Social-Demo- 
crats and not to explain how Russian Bernsteinism has 
manifested itself and what particular fruits it has borne, 
amounts to talking with the aim of saying nothing. 

Let us ourselves try, if only in a few words, to say what 
Rabocheye Dyelo did not want to say (or which was, perhaps, 
beyond its comprehension). 




The chief distinguishing feature of Russia in regard to 
the point we are examining is that the very beginning of 
the spontaneous working-class movement, on the one hand, 
and of the turn of progressive public opinion towards Marx- 
ism, on the other, was marked by the combination of 
manifestly heterogeneous elements under a common flag 
to fight the common enemy (the obsolete social and political 
world outlook). We refer to the heyday of "legal Marxism". 
Speaking generally, this was an altogether curious phenom- 
enon that no one in the eighties or the beginning of the 
nineties would have believed possible. In a country ruled 
by an autocracy, with a completely enslaved press, in a 
period of desperate political reaction in which even the 
tiniest outgrowth of political discontent and protest is 
persecuted, the theory of revolutionary Marxism suddenly 
forces its way into the censored literature and, though 
expounded in Aesopian language, is understood by all the 
"interested". The government had accustomed itself to regard- 
ing only the theory of the (revolutionary) Narodnaya 
Volya as dangerous, without, as is usual, observing its 
internal evolution, and rejoicing at any criticism levelled 
against it. Quite a considerable time elapsed (by our Russian 
standards) before the government realised what had happened 
and the unwieldy army of censors and gendarmes discovered 
the new enemy and flung itself upon him. Meanwhile, 
Marxist books were published one after another, Marxist 
journals and newspapers were founded, nearly everyone 
became a Marxist, Marxists were flattered, Marxists were 
courted, and the book publishers rejoiced at the extraordi- 
nary, ready sale of Marxist literature. It was quite natural, 
therefore, that among the Marxian neophytes who were 
caught up in this atmosphere, there should be more than one 
"author who got a swelled head..." 151 . 

We can now speak calmly of this period as of an event of 
the past. It is no secret that the brief period in which Marx- 
ism blossomed on the surface of our literature was called 
forth by an alliance between people of extreme and of very 
moderate views. In point of fact, the latter were bourgeois 
democrats; this conclusion (so markedly confirmed by their 



subsequent "critical" development) suggested itself to some 
even when the "alliance" was still intact.* 

That being the case, are not the revolutionary Social- 
Democrats who entered into the alliance with the future 
"Critics" mainly responsible for the subsequent "confusion"? 
This question, together with a reply in the affirmative, is 
sometimes heard from people with too rigid a view. But 
such people are entirely in the wrong. Only those who are not 
sure of themselves can fear to enter into temporary al- 
liances even with unreliable people; not a single political 
party could exist without such alliances. The combination 
with the legal Marxists was in its way the first really 
political alliance entered into by Russian Social-Democrats. 
Thanks to this alliance, an astonishingly rapid victory was 
obtained over Narodism, and Marxist ideas (even though in 
a vulgarised form) became very widespread. Moreover, the 
alliance was not concluded altogether without "conditions". 
Evidence of this is the burning by the censor, in 1895, of 
the Marxist collection Material on the Question of the Eco- 
nomic Development of Russia. 152 If the literary agreement 
with the legal Marxists can be compared with a political 
alliance, then that book can be compared with a political 

The rupture, of course, did not occur because the "allies" 
proved to be bourgeois democrats. On the contrary, the 
representatives of the latter trend are natural and desirable 
allies of Social-Democracy insofar as its democratic tasks, 
brought to the fore by the prevailing situation in Russia, 
are concerned. But an essential condition for such an al- 
liance must be the full opportunity for the socialists to reveal 
to the working class that its interests are diametrically 
opposed to the interests of the bourgeoisie. However, the 
Bernsteinian and "critical" trend, to which the majority of 
the legal Marxists turned, deprived the socialists of this 
opportunity and demoralised the socialist consciousness by 
vulgarising Marxism, by advocating the theory of the blunt- 
ing of social contradictions, by declaring the idea of the 

* The reference is to an article by K. Tulin directed against Struve. 
(See present edition, Vol. 1, pp. 333-507.— Ed.) The article was 
based on an essay entitled "The Reflection of Marxism in Bourgeois 
Literature". (Author's note to the 1907 edition.— Ed.) 



social revolution and of the dictatorship of the proletariat 
to be absurd, by reducing the working-class movement and 
the class struggle to narrow trade-unionism and to a "real- 
istic" struggle for petty, gradual reforms. This was synony- 
mous with bourgeois democracy's denial of socialism's 
right to independence and, consequently, of its right to 
existence; in practice it meant a striving to convert the 
nascent working-class movement into an appendage of the 

Naturally, under such circumstances the rupture was neces- 
sary. But the "peculiar" feature of Russia manifested itself in 
the fact that this rupture simply meant the elimination of 
the Social-Democrats from the most accessible and wide- 
spread "legal" literature. The "ex-Marxists", who took up the 
flag of "criticism" and who obtained almost a monopoly 
to "demolish" Marxism, entrenched themselves in this 
literature. Catchwords like "Against orthodoxy" and "Long 
live freedom of criticism" (now repeated by Rabocheye 
Dyelo) forthwith became the vogue, and the fact that neither 
the censor nor the gendarmes could resist this vogue is 
apparent from the publication of three Russian editions of 
the work of the celebrated Bernstein (celebrated in the 
Herostratean sense) and from the fact that the works of 
Bernstein, Mr. Prokopovich, and others were recommended 
by Zubatov (Iskra, No. 10). A task now devolved upon the 
Social-Democrats that was difficult in itself and was made 
incredibly more difficult by purely external obstacles — the 
task of combating the new trend. This trend did not confine 
itself to the sphere of literature. The turn towards "criti- 
cism" was accompanied by an infatuation for "Economism" 
among Social-Democratic practical workers. 

The manner in which the connection between, and inter- 
dependence of, legal criticism and illegal Economism arose 
and grew is in itself an interesting subject, one that could 
serve as the theme of a special article. We need only note 
here that this connection undoubtedly existed. The noto- 
riety deservedly acquired by the Credo was due precisely 
to the frankness with which it formulated this connection 
and blurted out the fundamental political tendency of 
"Economism" — let the workers carry on the economic struggle 
(it would be more correct to say the trade-unionist struggle, 



because the latter also embraces specifically working-class 
politics) and let the Marxist intelligentsia merge with the 
liberals for the political "struggle". Thus, trade-unionist 
work "among the people" meant fulfilling the first part of 
this task, while legal criticism meant fulfilling the second. 
This statement was such an excellent weapon against Econo- 
mism that, had there been no Credo, it would have been 
worth inventing one. 

The Credo was not invented, but it was published with- 
out the consent and perhaps even against the will of its 
authors. At all events, the present writer, who took part 
in dragging this new "programme" into the light of day,* 
has heard complaints and reproaches to the effect that copies 
of the resume of the speakers' views were distributed, dubbed 
the Credo, and even published in the press together with 
the protest! We refer to this episode because it reveals a 
very peculiar feature of our Economism — fear of publicity. 
This is a feature of Economism generally, and not of the 
authors of the Credo alone. It was revealed by that most 
outspoken and honest advocate of Economism, Rabochaya 
Mysl, and by Rabocheye Dyelo (which was indignant over 
the publication of "Economist" documents in the Vademe- 
cum 155 ), as well as by the Kiev Committee, which two years 
ago refused to permit the publication of its profession de 
foi,** together with a repudiation of it,*** and by many 
other individual representatives of Economism. 

This fear of criticism displayed by the advocates of free- 
dom of criticism cannot be attributed solely to craftiness 
(although, on occasion, no doubt craftiness is brought into 
play: it would be improvident to expose the young and as 

* The reference is to the Protest of the Seventeen against the 
Credo. The present writer took part in drawing up this protest (the 
end of 1899). 153 The protest and the Credo were published abroad in 
the spring of 1900. (See present edition, Vol. 4, pp. 167-82. —Ed.) 
It is now known from the article written by Madame Kuskova (I 
think in Byloye 154 ) that she was the author of the Credo and that 
Mr. Prokopovich was very prominent among the "Economists" abroad 
at the time. (Author's note to the 1907 edition. — Ed.) 
** Confession of faith. 156 
*** As far as our information goes, the composition of the Kiev 
Committee has changed since then. 



yet frail shoots of the new trend to attacks by opponents). 
No, the majority of the Economists look with sincere resent- 
ment (as by the very nature of Economism they must) upon 
all theoretical controversies, factional disagreements, broad 
political questions, plans for organising revolutionaries, etc. 
"Leave all that to the people abroad!" said a fairly consistent 
Economist to me one day, thereby expressing a very wide- 
spread (and again purely trade-unionist) view; our concern 
is the working-class movement, the workers, organisations 
here, in our localities; all the rest is merely the invention of 
doctrinaires, "the overrating of ideology", as the authors of 
the letter, published in Iskra, No. 12, expressed it, in unison 
with Rabocheye Dyelo, No. 10. 

The question now arises: such being the peculiar fea- 
tures of Russian "criticism" and Russian Bernsteinism, what 
should have been the task of those who sought to oppose 
opportunism in deeds and not merely in words? First, they 
should have made efforts to resume the theoretical work that 
had barely begun in the period of legal Marxism and that 
fell anew on the shoulders of the comrades working under- 
ground. Without such work the successful growth of the move- 
ment was impossible. Secondly, they should have actively 
combated the legal "criticism" that was perverting people's 
minds on a considerable scale. Thirdly, they should have 
actively opposed confusion and vacillation in the practical 
movement, exposing and repudiating every conscious or un- 
conscious attempt to degrade our programme and our tactics. 

That Rabocheye Dyelo did none of these things is well 
known; we shall have occasion below to deal with this well- 
known fact in detail and from various aspects. At the mo- 
ment, however, we desire merely to show the glaring con- 
tradiction that exists between the demand for "freedom of 
criticism" and the specific features of our native criticism 
and Russian Economism. It suffices but to glance at the text 
of the resolution in which the Union of Russian Social-Dem- 
ocrats Abroad endorsed the point of view of Rabocheye Dyelo. 

"In the interests of the further ideological development of Social- 
Democracy, we recognise the freedom of criticism of Social-Democrat- 
ic theory in Party literature to be absolutely necessary insofar as the 
criticism does not run counter to the class and revolutionary character 
of this theory" (Two Conferences, p. 10). 



And the motivation? The resolution "in its first part coin- 
cides with the resolution of the Liibeck Party Congress on 
Bernstein".... In the simplicity of their souls the "Unionists" 
failed to observe what a testimonium paupertatis (attestation 
of poverty) they betray with this copying.... "But ... in its 
second part, it restricts freedom of criticism much more than 
did the Liibeck Party Congress." 

The resolution of the Union Abroad, then, is directed 
against the Russian Bernsteinians? If it is not, then the 
reference to Liibeck would be utterly absurd. But it is not 
true to say that it "restricts freedom of criticism". In adopt- 
ing their Hanover resolution, the Germans, point by point, 
rejected precisely the amendments proposed by Bernstein, 
while in their Liibeck resolution they cautioned Bernstein 
personally, by naming him. Our "free" imitators, however, 
make not a single allusion to a single manifestation of specif- 
ically Russian "criticism" and Russian Economism. In view 
of this omission, the bare reference to the class and revolu- 
tionary character of the theory leaves far wider scope for 
misinterpretation, particularly when the Union Abroad re- 
fuses to identify "so-called Economism" with opportunism 
(Two Conferences, p. 8, Paragraph 1). But all this, in passing. 
The main thing to note is that the positions of the opportun- 
ists in relation to the revolutionary Social-Democrats in 
Russia are diametrically opposed to those in Germany. In 
that country, as we know, the revolutionary Social-Demo- 
crats are in favour of preserving that which exists — the old 
programme and the tactics, which are universally known and 
have been elucidated in all their details by many decades of 
experience. But the "Critics" desire to introduce changes, and 
since these Critics represent an insignificant minority, and 
since they are very timid in their revisionist efforts, one can 
understand the motives of the majority in confining them- 
selves to the dry rejection of "innovations". In Russia, 
however, it is the Critics and the Economists who are in 
favour of preserving that which exists: the "Critics" want us 
to go on regarding them as Marxists and to guarantee them the 
"freedom of criticism" they enjoyed to the full (for, in fact, 
they never recognised any kind of party ties,* and, more- 

* The fact alone of the absence of public party ties and party 
traditions, representing as it does a cardinal difference between Rus- 



over, we never had a generally recognised party body that 
could "restrict" freedom of criticism, if only by counsel); 
the Economists want the revolutionaries to recognise the sov- 
ereign character of the present movement" (Rabocheye 
Dyelo, No. 10, p. 25), i.e., to recognise the "legitimacy" of 
that which exists; they want the "ideologists" not to try to 
"divert" the movement from the path that "is determined by 
the interaction of material elements and material environ- 
ment" ("Letter" in Iskra, No. 12); they want to have that 
struggle recognised as desirable "which it is possible for the 
workers to wage under the present conditions", and as the 
only possible struggle, that "which they are actually waging 
at the present time" ("Separate Supplement" to Rabochaya 
Mysl, p. 14). We revolutionary Social-Democrats, on the 
contrary, are dissatisfied with this worship of spontaneity, 
i.e., of that which exists "at the present moment". We demand 
that the tactics that have prevailed in recent years be changed; 
we declare that "before we can unite, and in order that 
we may unite, we must first of all draw firm and definite 
lines of demarcation" (see announcement of the publication 
of Iskra).* In a word, the Germans stand for that which exists 
and reject changes; we demand a change of that which ex- 
ists, and reject subservience thereto and reconciliation 
to it. 

This "slight" difference our "free" copyists of German res- 
olutions failed to notice. 

sia and Germany, should have warned all sensible socialists against 
blind imitation. But here is an instance of the lengths to which "free- 
dom of criticism" goes in Russia. Mr. Bulgakov, the Russian Critic, 
utters the following reprimand to the Austrian Critic, Hertz: "Not- 
withstanding the independence of his conclusions, Hertz on this 
point [on the question of co-operative societies] apparently remains ex- 
cessively bound by the opinions of his party, and although he disa- 
grees with it in details, he dare not reject the common principle" (Cap- 
italism and Agriculture, Vol. II, p. 287). The subject of a politically 
enslaved state, in which nine hundred and ninety-nine out of a thou- 
sand of the population are corrupted to the marrow by political sub- 
servience and completely lack the conception of party honour and 
party ties, superciliously reproves a citizen of a constitutional state 
for being excessively "bound by the opinions of his party"! Our illegal 
organisations have nothing else to do, of course, but draw up resolu- 
tions on freedom of criticism.... 

* See present edition, Vol. 4, p. 354.— Ed. 




"Dogmatism, doctrinairism", "ossification of the party — 
the inevitable retribution that follows the violent strait- 
lacing of thought" — these are the enemies against which the 
knightly champions of "freedom of criticism" in Rabocheye 
Dyelo rise up in arms. We are very glad that this question 
has been placed on the order of the day and we would only 
propose to add to it one other: 

And who are the judges? 

We have before us two publishers' announcements. One, 
"The Programme of the Periodical Organ of the Union of 
Russian Social-Democrats Abroad — Rabocheye Dyelo" (reprint 
from No. 1 of Rabocheye Dyelo), and the other, the "Announce- 
ment of the Resumption of the Publications of the Emanci- 
pation of Labour Group". Both are dated 1899, when the "cri- 
sis of Marxism" had long been under discussion. And what do 
we find? We would seek in vain in the first announcement 
for any reference to this phenomenon, or a definite statement 
of the position the new organ intends to adopt on this ques- 
tion. Not a word is said about theoretical work and the ur- 
gent tasks that now confront it, either in this programme or 
in the supplements to it that were adopted by the Third Con- 
gress of the Union Abroad in 1901 {Two Conferences, pp. 
5-18). During this entire time the Editorial Board of Ra- 
bocheye Dyelo ignored theoretical questions, in spite of the 
fact that these were questions that disturbed the minds of 
all Social-Democrats the world over. 

The other announcement, on the contrary, points first of 
all to the declining interest in theory in recent years, im- 
peratively demands "vigilant attention to the theoretical 
aspect of the revolutionary movement of the proletariat", 
and calls for "ruthless criticism of the Bernsteinian and 
other anti-revolutionary tendencies" in our movement. The 
issues of Zarya to date show how this programme has been 
carried out. 

Thus, we see that high-sounding phrases against the 
ossification of thought, etc., conceal unconcern and helpless- 
ness with regard to the development of theoretical thought. 
The case of the Russian Social-Democrats manifestly illus- 



trates the general European phenomenon (long ago noted also 
by the German Marxists) that the much vaunted freedom of 
criticism does not imply substitution of one theory for anoth- 
er, but freedom from all integral and pondered theory; it 
implies eclecticism and lack of principle. Those who have the 
slightest acquaintance with the actual state of our movement 
cannot but see that the wide spread of Marxism was accom- 
panied by a certain lowering of the theoretical level. Quite 
a number of people with very little, and even a total lack of 
theoretical training joined the movement because of its 
practical significance and its practical successes. We can judge 
from that how tactless Rabocheye Dyelo is when, with 
an air of triumph, it quotes Marx's statement: "Every step 
of real movement is more important than a dozen pro- 
grammes." 157 To repeat these words in a period of theoretical 
disorder is like wishing mourners at a funeral many happy 
returns of the day. Moreover, these words of Marx are taken 
from his letter on the Gotha Programme, 158 in which he 
sharply condemns eclecticism in the formulation of princi- 
ples. If you must unite, Marx wrote to the party leaders, then 
enter into agreements to satisfy the practical aims of the 
movement, but do not allow any bargaining over principles, 
do not make theoretical "concessions". This was Marx's idea, 
and yet there are people among us who seek — in his name — 
to belittle the significance of theory! 

Without revolutionary theory there can be no revolution- 
ary movement. This idea cannot be insisted upon too strong- 
ly at a time when the fashionable preaching of opportunism 
goes hand in hand with an infatuation for the narrowest 
forms of practical activity. Yet, for Russian Social-Demo- 
crats the importance of theory is enhanced by three other 
circumstances, which are often forgotten: first, by the fact 
that our Party is only in process of formation, its features 
are only just becoming defined, and it has as yet far from 
settled accounts with the other trends of revolutionary 
thought that threaten to divert the movement from the cor- 
rect path. On the contrary, precisely the very recent past was 
marked by a revival of non-Social-Democratic revolutionary 
trends (an eventuation regarding which Axelrod long ago 
warned the Economists). Under these circumstances, what at 
first sight appears to be an "unimportant" error may lead to 



most deplorable consequences, and only short-sighted peo- 
ple can consider factional disputes and a strict differentia- 
tion between shades of opinion inopportune or superfluous. 
The fate of Russian Social-Democracy for very many years 
to come may depend on the strengthening of one or the other 

Secondly, the Social-Democratic movement is in its very 
essence an international movement. This means, not only 
that we must combat national chauvinism, but that an inci- 
pient movement in a young country can be successful only if 
it makes use of the experiences of other countries. In order to 
make use of these experiences it is not enough merely to be ac- 
quainted with them, or simply to copy out the latest resolu- 
tions. What is required is the ability to treat these experiences 
critically and to test them independently. He who real- 
ises how enormously the modern working-class movement has 
grown and branched out will understand what a reserve of 
theoretical forces and political (as well as revolutionary) expe- 
rience is required to carry out this task. 

Thirdly, the national tasks of Russian Social-Democracy 
are such as have never confronted any other socialist party 
in the world. We shall have occasion further on to deal 
with the political and organisational duties which the task 
of emancipating the whole people from the yoke of autocracy 
imposes upon us. At this point, we wish to state only that 
the role of vanguard fighter can be fulfilled only by a party 
that is guided by the most advanced theory. To have a concrete 
understanding of what this means, let the reader recall such 
predecessors of Russian Social-Democracy as Herzen, Belin- 
sky, Chernyshevsky, and the brilliant galaxy of revolution- 
aries of the seventies; let him ponder over the world signif- 
icance which Russian literature is now acquiring; let him ... 
but be that enough! 

Let us quote what Engels said in 1874 concerning the 
significance of theory in the Social-Democratic movement. 
Engels recognises, not two forms of the great struggle of 
Social-Democracy (political and economic), as is the fashion 
among us, but three, placing the theoretical struggle on a 
par with the first two. His recommendations to the German 
working-class movement, which had become strong, practi- 
cally and politically, are so instructive from the standpoint 



of present-day problems and controversies, that we hope the 
reader will not be vexed with us for quoting a long passage 
from his prefatory note to Der deutsche Bauernkrieg,* which 
has long become a great bibliographical rarity: 

"The German workers have two important advantages over 
those of the rest of Europe. First, they belong to the most 
theoretical people of Europe; and they have retained that 
sense of theory which the so-called 'educated' classes of Ger- 
many have almost completely lost. Without German philos- 
ophy, which preceded it, particularly that of Hegel, German 
scientific socialism — the only scientific socialism that has 
ever existed — would never have come into being. Without 
a sense of theory among the workers, this scientific socialism 
would never have entered their flesh and blood as much as is 
the case. What an immeasurable advantage this is may be 
seen, on the one hand, from the indifference towards all 
theory, which is one of the main reasons why the English 
working-class movement crawls along so slowly in spite of 
the splendid organisation of the individual unions; on the 
other hand, from the mischief and confusion wrought by 
Proudhonism, in its original form, among the French and 
Belgians, and, in the form further caricatured by Bakunin, 
among the Spaniards and Italians. 

"The second advantage is that, chronologically speaking, 
the Germans were about the last to come into the workers' 
movement. Just as German theoretical socialism will never 
forget that it rests on the shoulders of Saint-Simon, Fourier, 
and Owen — three men who, in spite of all their fantastic 
notions and all their utopianism, have their place among 
the most eminent thinkers of all times, and whose genius 
anticipated innumerable things, the correctness of which is 
now being scientifically proved by us — so the practical 
workers' movement in Germany ought never to forget that it 
has developed on the shoulders of the English and French 
movements, that it was able simply to utilise their dearly 
bought experience, and could now avoid their mistakes, 
which in their time were mostly unavoidable. Without the 
precedent of the English trade unions and French workers' 

* Dritter Abdruck, Leipzig, 1875. Verlag der Genossenschafts- 
buchdruckerei. (The Peasant War in Germany. Third impression. 
Co-operative Publishers, Leipzig, 1875. — Ed.) 



political struggles, without the gigantic impulse given espe- 
cially by the Paris Commune, where would we be now? 

"It must be said to the credit of the German workers that 
they have exploited the advantages of their situation with rare 
understanding. For the first time since a workers' move- 
ment has existed, the struggle is being conducted pursuant 
to its three sides — the theoretical, the political, and the 
practical-economic (resistance to the capitalists) — in 
harmony and in its interconnections, and in a systematic way. 
It is precisely in this, as it were, concentric attack, that 
the strength and invincibility of the German movement lies. 

"Due to this advantageous situation, on the one hand, 
and to the insular peculiarities of the English and the for- 
cible suppression of the French movement, on the other, 
the German workers have for the moment been placed in the 
vanguard of the proletarian struggle. How long events will 
allow them to occupy this post of honour cannot be foretold. 
But let us hope that as long as they occupy it, they will fill 
it fittingly. This demands redoubled efforts in every field 
of struggle and agitation. In particular, it will be the duty 
of the leaders to gain an ever clearer insight into all theoret- 
ical questions, to free themselves more and more from the 
influence of traditional phrases inherited from the old world 
outlook, and constantly to keep in mind that socialism, since 
it has become a science, demands that it be pursued as a 
science, i.e., that it be studied. The task will be to spread 
with increased zeal among the masses of the workers the 
ever more clarified understanding thus acquired, to knit 
together ever more firmly the organisation both of the party 
and of the trade unions.... 

"If the German workers progress in this way, they 
will not be marching exactly at the head of the movement — 
it is not at all in the interest of this movement that the 
workers of any particular country should march at its head 
— but they will occupy an honourable place in the battle 
line; and they will stand armed for battle when either unexpe- 
ctedly grave trials or momentous events demand of them in- 
creased courage, increased determination and energy." 159 

Engels's words proved prophetic. Within a few years the 
German workers were subjected to unexpectedly grave trials 
in the form of the Exceptional Law Against the Socialists. 



And they met those trials armed for battle and succeeded in 
emerging from them victorious. 

The Russian proletariat will have to undergo trials immeas- 
urably graver; it will have to fight a monster compared with 
which an anti-socialist law in a constitutional country seems 
but a dwarf. History has now confronted us with an immedi- 
ate task which is the most revolutionary of all the immediate 
tasks confronting the proletariat of any country. The fulfil- 
ment of this task, the destruction of the most powerful bul- 
wark, not only of European, but (it may now be said) of 
Asiatic reaction, would make the Russian proletariat the 
vanguard of the international revolutionary proletariat. And 
we have the right to count upon acquiring this honourable 
title, already earned by our predecessors, the revolutionaries 
of the seventies, if we succeed in inspiring our movement, 
which is a thousand times broader and deeper, with the same 
devoted determination and vigour. 



We have said that our movement, much more extensive 
and deep than the movement of the seventies, must be 
inspired with the same devoted determination and energy that 
inspired the movement at that time. Indeed, no one, we 
think, has until now doubted that the strength of the pres- 
ent-day movement lies in the awakening of the masses (prin- 
cipally, the industrial proletariat) and that its weakness 
lies in the lack of consciousness and initiative among the rev- 
olutionary leaders. 

However, of late a staggering discovery has been made, 
which threatens to disestablish all hitherto prevailing views 
on this question. This discovery was made by Rabocheye 
Dyelo, which in its polemic with Iskra and Zarya did not 
confine itself to making objections on separate points, but 
tried to ascribe "general disagreements" to a more profound 
cause — to the "different appraisals of the relative impor- 
tance of the spontaneous and consciously 'methodical' ele- 



ment". Rabocheye Dyelo formulated its indictment as a 
"belittling of the significance of the objective or the sponta- 
neous element of development".* To this we say: Had the polem- 
ics with Iskra and Zarya resulted in nothing more than 
causing Rabocheye Dyelo to hit upon these "general disa- 
greements", that alone would give us considerable satisfaction, 
so significant is this thesis and so clear is the light it sheds on 
the quintessence of the present-day theoretical and political 
differences that exist among Russian Social-Democrats. 

For this reason the question of the relation between con- 
sciousness and spontaneity is of such enormous general 
interest, and for this reason the question must be dealt with 
in great detail. 


In the previous chapter we pointed out how universally 
absorbed the educated youth of Russia was in the theories of 
Marxism in the middle of the nineties. In the same period 
the strikes that followed the famous St. Petersburg indus- 
trial war of 1896 assumed a similar general character. Their 
spread over the whole of Russia clearly showed the depth of 
the newly awakening popular movement, and if we are to 
speak of the "spontaneous element" then, of course, it is this 
strike movement which, first and foremost, must be regarded 
as spontaneous. But there is spontaneity and spontaneity. 
Strikes occurred in Russia in the seventies and sixties (and 
even in the first half of the nineteenth century), and they 
were accompanied by the "spontaneous" destruction of ma- 
chinery, etc. Compared with these "revolts", the strikes of 
the nineties might even be described as "conscious", to 
such an extent do they mark the progress which the working- 
class movement made in that period. This shows that the 
"spontaneous element", in essence, represents nothing more 
nor less than consciousness in an embryonic form. Even the 
primitive revolts expressed the awakening of consciousness 
to a certain extent. The workers were losing their age-long 
faith in the permanence of the system which oppressed them 
and began... I shall not say to understand, but to sense 

* Rabocheye Dyelo, No. 10, September 1901, pp. 17-18. Rabo- 
cheye Dyelo's italics. 



the necessity for collective resistance, definitely abandoning 
their slavish submission to the authorities. But this was, 
nevertheless, more in the nature of outbursts of desperation 
and vengeance than of struggle. The strikes of the nineties 
revealed far greater flashes of consciousness; definite demands 
were advanced, the strike was carefully timed, known cases 
and instances in other places were discussed, etc. The re- 
volts were simply the resistance of the oppressed, whereas 
the systematic strikes represented the class struggle in em- 
bryo, but only in embryo. Taken by themselves, these strikes 
were simply trade union struggles, not yet Social-Demo- 
cratic struggles. They marked the awakening antagonisms 
between workers and employers; but the workers, were not, 
and could not be, conscious of the irreconcilable antagonism 
of their interests to the whole of the modern political and 
social system, i.e., theirs was not yet Social-Democratic 
consciousness. In this sense, the strikes of the nineties, de- 
spite the enormous progress they represented as compared 
with the "revolts", remained a purely spontaneous movement. 

We have said that there could not have been Social-Demo- 
cratic consciousness among the workers. It would have 
to be brought to them from without. The history of all 
countries shows that the working class, exclusively by its 
own effort, is able to develop only trade-union consciousness, 
i.e., the conviction that it is necessary to combine in unions, 
fight the employers, and strive to compel the government to 
pass necessary labour legislation, etc.* The theory of social- 
ism, however, grew out of the philosophic, historical, and 
economic theories elaborated by educated representatives 
of the propertied classes, by intellectuals. By their social 
status the founders of modern scientific socialism, Marx and 
Engels, themselves belonged to the bourgeois intelligentsia. 
In the very same way, in Russia, the theoretical doctrine of 
Social-Democracy arose altogether independently of the 
spontaneous growth of the working-class movement; it arose 
as a natural and inevitable outcome of the development of 

* Trade-unionism does not exclude "politics" altogether, as some 
imagine. Trade unions have always conducted some political (but 
not Social-Democratic) agitation and struggle. We shall deal with the 
difference between trade-union politics and Social-Democratic poli- 
tics in the next chapter. 



thought among the revolutionary socialist intelligentsia. 
In the period under discussion, the middle nineties, this 
doctrine not only represented the completely formulated 
programme of the Emancipation of Labour group, but had 
already won over to its side the majority of the revolution- 
ary youth in Russia. 

Hence, we had both the spontaneous awakening of the 
working masses, their awakening to conscious life and con- 
scious struggle, and a revolutionary youth, armed with 
Social-Democratic theory and straining towards the workers. 
In this connection it is particularly important to state the 
oft-forgotten (and comparatively little-known) fact that, 
although the early Social-Democrats of that period zealously 
carried on economic agitation (being guided in this activity 
by the truly useful indications contained in the pamphlet 
On Agitation, 160 then still in manuscript), they did not 
regard this as their sole task. On the contrary, from the very 
beginning they set for Russian Social-Democracy the most 
far-reaching historical tasks, in general, and the task of 
overthrowing the autocracy, in particular. Thus, towards 
the end of 1895, the St. Petersburg group of Social-Demo- 
crats, which founded the League of Struggle for the Emanci- 
pation of the Working Class, prepared the first issue of a 
newspaper called Rabocheye Dyelo. This issue was ready to 
go to press when it was seized by the gendarmes, on the night 
of December 8, 1895, in a raid on the house of one of the mem- 
bers of the group, Anatoly Alexeyevich Vaneyey,* so that 
the first edition of Rabocheye Dyelo was not destined to see 
the light of day. The leading article in this issue (which 
perhaps thirty years hence some Russkaya Starina 161 will 
unearth in the archives of the Department of Police) outlined 
the historical tasks of the working class in Russia and placed 
the achievement of political liberty at their head. The issue 
also contained an article entitled "What Are Our Ministers 
Thinking About?"** which dealt with the crushing of the 

* A. A. Vaneyev died in Eastern Siberia in 1899 from consumption, 
which he contracted during solitary confinement in prison prior 
to his banishment. That is why we considered it possible to publish 
the above information, the authenticity of which we guarantee, for 
it comes from persons who were closely and directly acquainted with 
A. A. Vaneyev. 

**See present edition, Vol. 2, pp. 87-92. —Ed. 



elementary education committees by the police. In addition, 
there was some correspondence from St. Petersburg, and 
from other parts of Russia (e.g., a letter on the massacre of 
the workers in Yaroslavl Gubernia). This, "first effort", if 
we are not mistaken, of the Russian Social-Democrats of 
the nineties was not a purely local, or less still, "Economic", 
newspaper, but one that aimed to unite the strike movement 
with the revolutionary movement against the autocracy, 
and to win over to the side of Social-Democracy all who were 
oppressed by the policy of reactionary obscurantism. No 
one in the slightest degree acquainted with the state of the 
movement at that period could doubt that such a paper 
would have met with warm response among the workers of the 
capital and the revolutionary intelligentsia and would have had 
a wide circulation. The failure of the enterprise merely 
showed that the Social-Democrats of that period were unable 
to meet the immediate requirements of the time owing to 
their lack of revolutionary experience and practical train- 
ing. This must be said, too, with regard to the S. Peter- 
burgsky Rabochy Listok 162 and particularly with regard 
to Rabochaya Gazeta and the Manifesto of the Russian Social- 
Democratic Labour Party, founded in the spring of 1898. Of 
course, we would not dream of blaming the Social-Democrats 
of that time for this unpreparedness. But in order to profit 
from the experience of that movement, and to draw practical 
lessons from it, we must thoroughly understand the causes 
and significance of this or that shortcoming. It is therefore 
highly important to establish the fact that a part (perhaps 
even a majority) of the Social-Democrats, active in the pe- 
riod of 1895-98, justly considered it possible even then, at 
the very beginning of the "spontaneous" movement, to come 
forward with a most extensive programme and a militant 
tactical line.* Lack of training of the majority of the revolu- 

* "In adopting a hostile attitude towards the activities of the 
Social-Democrats of the late nineties, Iskra ignores the absence at 
that time of conditions for any work other than the struggle for petty 
demands," declare the Economists in their "Letter to Russian Social- 
Democratic Organs" (Iskra, No. 12). The facts given above show that 
the assertion about "absence of conditions" is diametrically opposed 
to the truth. Not only at the end, but even in the mid-nineties, all the 
conditions existed for other work, besides the struggle for petty de- 
mands — all the conditions except adequate training of leaders. Instead 



tionaries, an entirely natural phenomenon, could not have 
roused any particular fears. Once the tasks were correctly 
defined, once the energy existed for repeated attempts to 
fulfil them, temporary failures represented only part mis- 
fortune. Revolutionary experience and organisational skill 
are things that can be acquired, provided the desire is there 
to acquire them, provided the shortcomings are recognised, 
which in revolutionary activity is more than half-way to- 
wards their removal. 

But what was only part misfortune became full misfor- 
tune when this consciousness began to grow dim (it was very 
much alive among the members of the groups mentioned), 
when there appeared people — and even Social -Democratic 
organs — that were prepared to regard shortcomings as vir- 
tues, that even tried to invent a theoretical basis for their 
slavish cringing before spontaneity . It is time to draw con- 
clusions from this trend, the content of which is incorrectly 
and too narrowly characterised as "Economism". 


Before dealing with the literary manifestation of this 
subservience to spontaneity, we should like to note the fol- 
lowing characteristic fact (communicated to us from the 
above-mentioned source), which throws light on the condi- 
tions in which the two future conflicting trends in Russian 
Social-Democracy arose and grew among the comrades work- 
ing in St. Petersburg. In the beginning of 1897, just prior to 
their banishment, A. A. Vaneyev and several of his comrades 
attended a private meeting 163 at which "old" and "young" 
members of the League of Struggle for the Emancipation of 
the Working Class gathered. The conversation centred chief- 
ly about the question of organisation, particularly about 
the "rules for the workers' mutual benefit fund", which, in 

of frankly admitting that we, the ideologists, the leaders, lacked 
sufficient training — the "Economists" seek to shift the blame entirely 
upon the "absence of conditions", upon the effect of material environ- 
ment that determines the road from which no ideologist will be able 
to divert the movement. What is this but slavish cringing before spon- 
taneity, what but the infatuation of the "ideologists" with their own 



their final form, were published in "Listok" Rabotnika, 164 
No. 9-10, p. 46. Sharp differences immediately showed them- 
selves between the "old" members ("Decembrists", as the St. 
Petersburg Social-Democrats jestingly called them) and sev- 
eral of the "young" members (who subsequently took an 
active part in the work of Rabochaya Mysl), with a heated 
discussion ensuing. The "young" members defended the main 
principles of the rules in the form in which they were pub- 
lished. The "old" members contended that the prime necessity 
was not this, but the consolidation of the League of Struggle 
into an organisation of revolutionaries to which all the var- 
ious workers' mutual benefit funds, students' propaganda 
circles, etc., should be subordinated. It goes without saying 
that the disputing sides far from realised at the time that 
these disagreements were the beginning of a cleavage; on the 
contrary, they regarded them as something isolated and cas- 
ual. But this fact shows that in Russia, too, "Economism" 
did not arise and spread without a struggle against the "old" 
Social-Democrats (which the Economists of today are apt to 
forget). And if, in the main, this struggle has not left "doc- 
umentary" traces behind it, it is solely because the member- 
ship of the circles then functioning underwent such constant 
change that no continuity was established and, consequent- 
ly, differences in point of view were not recorded in any doc- 

The founding of Rabochaya Mysl brought Economism to 
the light of day, but not at one stroke. We must picture 
to ourselves concretely the conditions for activity and the 
short-lived character of the majority of the Russian study 
circles (a thing that is possible only for those who have 
themselves experienced it) in order to understand how much 
there was of the fortuitous in the successes and failures 
of the new trend in various towns, and the length of time 
during which neither the advocates nor the opponents of the 
"new" could make up their minds — and literally had no 
opportunity of so doing — as to whether this really expressed 
a distinct trend or merely the lack of training of certain 
individuals. For example, the first mimeographed copies of 
Rabochaya Mysl never reached the great majority of Social- 
Democrats, and if we are able to refer to the leading article 
in the first number, it is only because it was reproduced in an 



article by V. I. 165 ("Listok" Rabotnika, No. 9-10, p. 47, et 
seq.), who, of course, did not fail to extol with more zeal 
than reason the new paper, which was so different from the 
papers and projects for papers mentioned above.* It is well 
worth dwelling on this leading article because it brings out in 
bold relief the entire spirit of Rabochaya Mysl and Economism 

After stating that the arm of the "blue-coats"** could 
never halt the progress of the working-class movement, the 
leading article goes on to say: "...The virility of the working- 
class movement is due to the fact that the workers themselves 
are at last taking their fate into their own hands, and out 
of the hands of the leaders"; this fundamental thesis is then 
developed in greater detail. Actually, the leaders (i.e., the 
Social-Democrats, the organisers of the League of Struggle) 
were, one might say, torn out of the hands of the workers*** 
by the police; yet it is made to appear that the workers were 
fighting against the leaders and liberated themselves from 
their yoke! Instead of sounding the call to go forward towards 
the consolidation of the revolutionary organisation and the 
expansion of political activity, the call was issued for a 
retreat to the purely trade-union struggle. It was announced 
that "the economic basis of the movement is eclipsed by the 
effort never to forget the political ideal", and that the watch- 
word for the working-class movement was "Struggle for eco- 
nomic conditions" (!) or, better still, "The workers for the 
workers". It was declared that strike funds "are more valua- 
ble to the movement than a hundred other organisations" 
(compare this statement made in October 1897, with the 

* It should be stated in passing that the praise of Rabochaya 
Mysl in November 1898, when Economism had become fully defined, 
especially abroad, emanated from the selfsame V. I, who very soon 
after became one of the editors of Rabocheye Dyelo. And yet Rabocheye 
Dyelo denied that there were two trends in Russian Social-Democra- 
cy, and continues to deny it to this day! 

** The tsarist gendarmes wore blue uniforms. — TV. 
*** That this simile is a correct one is shown by the following char- 
acteristic fact. When, after the arrest of the "Decembrists", the news 
spread among the workers of the Schliisselburg Highway that the dis- 
covery and arrest were facilitated by an agent-provocateur, N. N. Mi- 
khailov, a dentist, who had been in contact with a group associated 
with the "Decembrists", the workers were so enraged that they de- 
cided to kill him. 



polemic between the "Decembrists" and the young members in 
the beginning of 1897), etc. Catchwords like "We must con- 
centrate, not on the 'cream' of the workers, but on the 'av- 
erage', mass worker"; "Politics always obediently follows 
economics",* etc., etc., became the fashion, exercising an 
irresistible influence upon the masses of the youth who were 
attracted to the movement but who, in the majority of 
cases, were acquainted only with such fragments of Marxism 
as were expounded in legally appearing publications. 

Political consciousness was completely overwhelmed by 
spontaneity — the spontaneity of the "Social-Democrats" 
who repeated Mr. V. V.'s "ideas", the spontaneity of those 
workers who were carried away by the arguments that a 
kopek added to a ruble was worth more than any socialism or 
politics, and that they must "fight, knowing that they are 
fighting, not for the sake of some future generation, but for 
themselves and their children" (leader in Rabochaya Mysl, 
No. 1). Phrases like these have always been a favourite weap- 
on of the West-European bourgeois, who, in their hatred for 
socialism, strove (like the German " ' Sozial-Politiker" Hirsch) 
to transplant English trade-unionism to their native soil and 
to preach to the workers that by engaging in the purely 
trade-union struggle** they would be fighting for themselves 
and for their children, and not for some future generations 
with some future socialism. And now the "V. V.'s of Rus- 
sian Social-Democracy" have set about repeating these bour- 
geois phrases. It is important at this point to note three 
circumstances that will be useful to our further analysis of 
contemporary differences.*** 

* These quotations are taken from the same leading article in 
the first number of Rabochaya Mysl. One can judge from this the de- 
gree of theoretical training possessed by these "V. V.'s of Russian So- 
cial-Democracy", 166 who kept repeating the crude vulgarisation of 
"economic materialism" at a time when the Marxists were carrying 
on a literary war against the real Mr. V. V., who had long ago been 
dubbed "a past master of reactionary deeds" for holding similar views 
on the relations between politics and economics! 

**The Germans even have a special expression, Nur-Gewerkschaft- 
ler, which means an advocate of the "pure trade-union" struggle. 

***We emphasise the word contemporary for the benefit of those 
who may pharisaically shrug their shoulders and say: It is easy enough 
to attack Rabochaya Mysl now, but is not all this ancient history? 
Mutato nomine de te fabula narratur (change the name and the tale is 



In the first place, the overwhelming of political conscious- 
ness by spontaneity, to which we referred above, also took 
place spontaneously. This may sound like a pun, but, alas, it 
is the bitter truth. It did not take place as a result of an open 
struggle between two diametrically opposed points of view, 
in which one triumphed over the other; it occurred because of 
the fact that an increasing number of "old" revolutionaries 
were "torn away" by the gendarmes and increasing numbers of 
"young" "V. V.'s of Russian Social- Democracy" appeared on 
the scene. Everyone, who has, I shall not say participated in, 
but at least breathed the atmosphere of, the present-day 
Russian movement, knows perfectly well that this is precisely 
the case. And if, nevertheless, we insist strongly that the 
reader be fully clear on this generally known fact, if we 
cite, for explicitness, as it were, the facts of the first edition 
of Rabocheye Dyelo and of the polemic between the "old" and 
the "young" at the beginning of 1897, we do this because the 
people who vaunt their "democracy" speculate on the igno- 
rance of these facts on the part of the broad public (or of the 
very young generation). We shall return to this point fur- 
ther on. 

Secondly, in the very first literary expression of Econo- 
mism we observe the exceedingly curious phenomenon — high- 
ly characteristic for an understanding of all the differences 
prevailing among present-day Social-Democrats — that the 
adherents of the "labour movement pure and simple", wor- 
shippers of the closest "organic" contacts (Rabocheye Dye- 
Zo's term) with the proletarian struggle, opponents of any 
non-worker intelligentsia (even a socialist intelligentsia), 
are compelled, in order to defend their positions, to resort 
to the arguments of the bourgeois "pure trade-unionists". 
This shows that from the very outset Rabochaya Mysl began — 
unconsciously — to implement the programme of the Credo. 
This shows (something Rabocheye Dyelo cannot grasp) that 
all worship of the spontaneity of the working-class move- 
ment, all belittling of the role of "the conscious element", of 
the role of Social-Democracy, means, quite independently of 
whether he who belittles that role desires it or not, a strength- 

about you. — Ed.) is our answer to such contemporary Pharisees, whose 
complete subjection to the ideas of Rabochaya Mysl will be proved 
further on. 



ening of the influence of bourgeois ideology upon the work- 
ers. All those who talk about "overrating the importance of 
ideology",* about exaggerating the role of the conscious ele- 
ment,** etc., imagine that the labour movement pure and 
simple can elaborate, and will elaborate, an independent 
ideology for itself, if only the workers "wrest their fate from 
the hands of the leaders". But this is a profound mistake. 
To supplement what has been said above, we shall quote the 
following profoundly true and important words of Karl Kaut- 
sky on the new draft programme of the Austrian Social-Dem- 
ocratic Party:*** 

"Many of our revisionist critics believe that Marx asserted that 
economic development and the class struggle create, not only the 
conditions for socialist production, but also, and directly, the con- 
sciousness [K. K.'s italics] of its necessity. And these critics assert 
that England, the country most highly developed capitalistically, 
is more remote than any other from this consciousness. Judg- 
ing by the draft, one might assume that this allegedly orthodox- 
Marxist view, which is thus refuted, was shared by the committee 
that drafted the Austrian programme. In the draft programme it is 
stated: 'The more capitalist development increases the numbers of 
the proletariat, the more the proletariat is compelled and becomes 
fit to fight against capitalism. The proletariat becomes conscious' 
of the possibility and of the necessity for socialism.' In this connection 
socialist consciousness appears to be a necessary and direct result of 
the proletarian class struggle. But this is absolutely untrue. Of course, 
socialism, as a doctrine, has its roots in modern economic relation- 
ships just as the class struggle of the proletariat has, and, like the lat- 
ter, emerges from the struggle against the capitalist-created poverty 
and misery of the masses. But socialism and the class struggle arise 
side by side and not one out of the other; each arises under different 
conditions. Modern socialist consciousness can arise only on the basis 
of profound scientific knowledge. Indeed, modern economic science 
is as much a condition for socialist production as, say, modern technol- 
ogy, and the proletariat can create neither the one nor the other, no 
matter how much it may desire to do so; both arise out of the modern 
social process. The vehicle of science is not the proletariat, but the 
bourgeois intelligentsia [K. K.'s italics]: it was in the minds of indi- 
vidual members of this stratum that modern socialism originated, and 
it was they who communicated it to the more intellectually developed 
proletarians who, in their turn, introduce it into the proletarian class 

* Letter of the "Economists", in Iskra, No. 12. 
** Rabocheye Dyelo, No. 10. 
***Neue Zeit, 1901-02, XX, I, No. 3, p. 79. The committee's draft 
to which Kautsky refers was adopted by the Vienna Congress (at the 
end of last year) in a slightly amended form. 



struggle where conditions allow that to be done. Thus, socialist con- 
sciousness is something introduced into the proletarian class struggle 
from without [von Aussen Hineingetragenes] and not something that 
arose within it spontaneously [urwiichsig]. Accordingly, the old 
Hainfeld programme quite rightly stated that the task of Social-De- 
mocracy is to imbue the proletariat [literally: saturate the proletar- 
iat] with the consciousness of its position and the consciousness of its 
task. There would be no need for this if consciousness arose of itself 
from the class struggle. The new draft copied this proposition from the 
old programme, and attached it to the proposition mentioned above. 
But this completely broke the line of thought...." 

Since there can be no talk of an independent ideology for- 
mulated by the working masses themselves in the process of 
their movement,* the only choice is — either bourgeois or 
socialist ideology. There is no middle course (for mankind 
has not created a "third" ideology, and, moreover, in a 
society torn by class antagonisms there can never be a non- 
class or an above-class ideology). Hence, to belittle the so- 
cialist ideology in any way, to turn aside from it in the slight- 
est degree means to strengthen bourgeois ideology. There is 
much talk of spontaneity. But the spontaneous development 
of the working-class movement leads to its subordination to 
bourgeois ideology, to its development along the lines of the 
Credo programme; for the spontaneous working-class move- 
ment is trade-unionism, is Nur-Gewerkschaftlerei, and trade- 
unionism means the ideological enslavement of the workers 
by the bourgeoisie. Hence, our task, the task of Social-Democ- 
racy, is to combat spontaneity, to divert the working-class 
movement from this spontaneous, trade-unionist striving to 

* This does not mean, of course, that the workers have no part 
in creating such an ideology. They take part, however, not as workers, 
but as socialist theoreticians, as Proudhons and Weitlings; in other 
words, they take part only when they are able, and to the extent that 
they are able, more or less, to acquire the knowledge of their age and 
develop that knowledge. But in order that working men may succeed 
in this more often, every effort must be made to raise the level of the 
consciousness of the workers in general; it is necessary that the workers 
do not confine themselves to the artificially restricted limits of "lit- 
erature for workers" but that they learn to an increasing degree to 
master general literature. It would be even truer to say "are not con- 
fined", instead of "do not confine themselves", because the workers 
themselves wish to read and do read all that is written for the intel- 
ligentsia, and only a few (bad) intellectuals believe that it is enough 
"for workers" to be told a few things about factory conditions and to 
have repeated to them over and over again what has long been known. 



come under the wing of the bourgeoisie, and to bring it under 
the wing of revolutionary Social-Democracy. The sentence 
employed by the authors of the "Economist" letter published 
in Iskra, No. 12, that the efforts of the most inspired ide- 
ologists fail to divert the working-class movement from the 
path that is determined by the interaction of the material 
elements and the material environment is therefore tanta- 
mount to renouncing socialism. If these authors were capable 
of fearlessly, consistently, and thoroughly considering what 
they say, as everyone who enters the arena of literary and 
public activity should be, there would be nothing left for 
them but to "fold their useless arms over their empty breasts" 
and surrender the field of action to the Struves and 
Prokopoviches, who are dragging the working-class movement 
"along the line of least resistance", i.e., along the line of 
bourgeois trade-unionism, or to the Zubatovs, who are drag- 
ging it along the line of clerical and gendarme "ideology". 

Let us recall the example of Germany. What was the 
historic service Lassalle rendered to the German working- 
class movement? It was that he diverted that movement from 
the path of progressionist trade-unionism and co-operativism 
towards which it had been spontaneously moving {with the 
benign assistance of Schulze-Delitzsch and his like). To fulfil 
such a task it was necessary to do something quite different 
from talking of underrating the spontaneous element, of 
tactics-as-process, of the interaction between elements and 
environment, etc. A fierce struggle against spontaneity was 
necessary, and only after such a struggle, extending over many 
years, was it possible, for instance, to convert the working pop- 
ulation of Berlin from a bulwark of the progressionist party 
into one of the finest strongholds of Social-Democracy. This 
struggle is by no means over even today (as might seem to 
those who learn the history of the German movement from Pro- 
kopovich, and its philosophy from Struve). Even now the 
German working class is, so to speak, split up among a number 
of ideologies. A section of the workers is organised in Cath- 
olic and monarchist trade unions; another section is organ- 
ised in the Hirsch-Duncker unions, 167 founded by the bour- 
geois worshippers of English trade-unionism; the third is 
organised in Social-Democratic trade unions. The last- 
named group is immeasurably more numerous than the rest, 



but the Social-Democratic ideology was able to achieve 
this superiority, and will be able to maintain it, only in an 
unswerving struggle against all other ideologies. 

But why, the reader will ask, does the spontaneous move- 
ment, the movement along the line of least resistance, lead to 
the domination of bourgeois ideology? For the simple reason 
that bourgeois ideology is far older in origin than socialist 
ideology, that it is more fully developed, and that it has at 
its disposal immeasurably more means of dissemination.* 
And the younger the socialist movement in any given coun- 
try, the more vigorously it must struggle against all attempts 
to entrench non-socialist ideology, and the more resolutely 
the workers must be warned against the bad counsellors who 
shout against "overrating the conscious element", etc. The 
authors of the Economist letter, in unison with Rabocheye 
Dyelo, inveigh against the intolerance that is characteristic 
of the infancy of the movement. To this we reply: Yes, our 
movement is indeed in its infancy, and in order that it may 
grow up faster, it must become imbued with intolerance 
against those who retard its growth by their subservience to 
spontaneity. Nothing is so ridiculous and harmful as pretend- 
ing that we are "old hands" who have long ago experienced 
all the decisive stages of the struggle. 

Thirdly, the first issue of Rabochaya Mysl shows that the 
term "Economism" (which, of course, we do not propose to 
abandon, since, in one way or another, this designation has 
already established itself) does not adequately convey the 
real character of the new trend. Rabochaya Mysl does not 
altogether repudiate the political struggle; the rules for a 
workers' mutual benefit fund published in its first issue con- 

* It is often said that the working class spontaneously gravitates 
towards socialism. This is perfectly true in the sense that socialist 
theory reveals the causes of the misery of the working class more pro- 
foundly and more correctly than any other theory, and for that reason 
the workers are able to assimilate it so easily, provided, however, 
this theory does not itself yield to spontaneity, provided it subordi- 
nates spontaneity to itself. Usually this is taken for granted, but it 
is precisely this which Rabocheye Dyelo forgets or distorts. The work- 
ing class spontaneously gravitates towards socialism; nevertheless, 
most widespread (and continuously and diversely revived) bour- 
geois ideology spontaneously imposes itself upon the working class to 
a still greater degree. 



tain a reference to combating the government. Rabochaya 
Mysl believes, however, that "politics always obediently 
follows economics" (Rabocheye Dyelo varies this thesis when 
it asserts in its programme that "in Russia more than in any 
other country, the economic struggle is inseparable from the 
political struggle"). If by politics is meant Social-Demo- 
cratic politics, then the theses of Rabochaya Mysl and Ra- 
bocheye Dyelo are utterly incorrect. The economic struggle 
of the workers is very often connected (although not insep- 
arably) with bourgeois politics, clerical politics, etc., as we 
have seen. Rabocheye Dyelo's theses are correct, if by politics 
is meant trade-union politics, viz., the common striving of 
all workers to secure from the government measures for alle- 
viating the distress to which their condition gives rise, but 
which do not abolish that condition, i.e., which do not re- 
move the subjection of labour to capital. That striving in- 
deed is common to the English trade-unionists, who are hos- 
tile to socialism, to the Catholic workers, to the "Zubatov" 
workers, etc. There is politics and politics. Thus, we see that 
Rabochaya Mysl does not so much deny the political struggle, 
as it bows to its spontaneity, to its unconsciousness. While 
fully recognising the political struggle (better: the political 
desires and demands of the workers), which arises sponta- 
neously from the working-class movement itself, it absolutely 
refuses independently to work out a specifically Social- 
Democratic politics corresponding to the general tasks of 
socialism and to present-day conditions in Russia. Further 
on we shall show that Rabocheye Dyelo commits the same 


We have dealt at such length with the little-known and 
now almost forgotten leading article in the first issue of 
Rabochaya Mysl because it was the first and most striking 
expression of that general stream of thought which afterwards 
emerged into the light of day in innumerable streamlets. 
V. I. was perfectly right when, in praising the first issue and 
the leading article of Rabochaya Mysl, he said that the arti- 
cle had been written in a "sharp and fervent" manner ("Li- 
sted" Rabotnika, No. 9-10, p. 49). Every man with convictions 



who thinks he has something new to say writes "fervently" 
and in such a way as to make his views stand out in bold re- 
lief. Only those who are accustomed to sitting between two 
stools lack "fervour"; only such people are able to praise the 
fervour of Rabochaya Mysl one day and attack the "fervent 
polemics" of its opponents the next. 

We shall not dwell on the "Separate Supplement" to 
Rabochaya Mysl (below we shall have occasion, on various 
points, to refer to this work, which expresses the ideas of 
the Economists more consistently than any other) but shall 
briefly mention the "Appeal of the Self-Emancipation of 
the Workers Group" (March 1899, reprinted in the London 
Nakanune, 169 No. 7, July 1899). The authors of the "Appeal" 
rightly say that "the workers of Russia are only just awaken- 
ing, are just beginning to look about them, and are instinc- 
tively clutching at the first available means of struggle". Yet 
they draw from this the same false conclusion as that drawn 
by Rabochaya Mysl, forgetting that the instinctive is the 
unconscious (the spontaneous) to the aid of which socialists 
must come; that the "first available means of struggle" will 
always be, in modern society, the trade-union means of 
struggle, and the "first available" ideology the bourgeois 
(trade-union) ideology. Similarly, these authors do not 
"repudiate" politics, they merely (merely!) echo Mr. V. V. 
that politics is the superstructure, and therefore, "political 
agitation must be the superstructure to the agitation carried 
on in favour of the economic struggle; it must arise on the 
basis of this struggle and follow in its wake." 

As for Rabocheye Dyelo, it began its activity with the "de- 
fence" of the Economists. It stated a downright untruth in its 
opening issue (No. 1, pp. 141-42) in claiming that it "does not 
know to which young comrades Axelrod referred" when he 
warned the Economists in his well-known pamphlet.* In 
the polemic that flared up with Axelrod and Plekhanov over 
this untruth, Rabocheye Dyelo had to admit that "in form of 
perplexity, it sought to defend all the younger Social-Dem- 
ocrats abroad from this unjust accusation" (the charge of 
narrowness levelled by Axelrod at the Economists). In re- 

* Present Tasks and Tactics of the Russian Social-Democracy, 
Geneva, 1898. Two letters to Rabochaya Gazeta, written in 1897. 



ality this accusation was completely justified, and Rabocheye 
Dyelo knew perfectly well that, among others, it applied 
also to V. I., a member of its Editorial Board. Let me note in 
passing that in this polemic Axelrod was entirely right and 
Rabocheye Dyelo entirely wrong in their respective inter- 
pretations of my pamphlet The Tasks of the Russian Social- 
Democrats.* The pamphlet was written in 1897, before the 
appearance of Rabochaya Mysl, when I thought, rightly, that 
the original tendency of the St. Petersburg League of Strug- 
gle, which I characterised above, was dominant. And this 
tendency was dominant at least until the middle of 1898. 
Consequently, Rabocheye Dyelo had no right whatever, in 
its attempt to deny the existence and danger of Economism, 
to refer to a pamphlet that expressed views forced out by 
"Economist" views in St. Petersburg in 1897-98.** 

But Rabocheye Dyelo not only "defended" the Economists, 
it itself constantly fell into their fundamental errors. The 
source of this confusion is to be found in the ambiguity of the 
interpretation given to the following thesis of the Rabo- 
cheye Dyelo programme: "We consider that the most important 
phenomenon of Russian life, the one that will mainly de- 
termine the tasks [our italics] and the character of the publi- 
cation activity of the Union, is the mass working-class move- 
ment [Rabocheye Dyelo's italics] which has arisen in recent 
years." That the mass movement is a most important phenom- 
enon is a fact not to be disputed. But the crux of the mat- 
ter is, how is one to understand the statement that the mass 
working-class movement will "determine the tasks"? It may 

* See present edition, Vol. 2, pp. 323 — 51.— Ed. 
** In defending its first untruth ("we do not know to which young 
comrades Axelrod referred"), Rabocheye Dyelo added a second, when 
it wrote in its Reply: "Since the review of The Tasks was published, 
tendencies have arisen, or become more or less clearly defined, among 
certain Russian Social-Democrats, towards economic one-sidedness, 
which represent a step backwards from the state of our movement as 
described in The Tasks" (p. 9). This, in the Reply, published in 1900. 
But the first issue of Rabocheye Dyelo (containing the review) ap- 
peared in April 1899. Did Economism really arise only in 1899? No. 
The year 1899 saw the first protest of the Russian Social-Democrats 
against Economism (the protest against the Credo). Economism arose 
in 1897, as Rabocheye Dyelo very well knows, for already in Novem- 
ber 1898, V. I. was praising Rabochaya Mysl (see "Listok" Rabotnika, 
No. 9-10). 



be interpreted in one of two ways. Either it means bowing to 
the spontaneity of this movement, i.e., reducing the role of 
Social-Democracy to mere subservience to the working-class 
movement as such (the interpretation of Rabochaya Mysl, 
the Self-Emancipation Group, and other Economists), or it 
means that the mass movement places before us new theoret- 
ical, political, and organisational tasks, far more compli- 
cated than those that might have satisfied us in the period be- 
fore the rise of the mass movement. Rabocheye Dyelo in- 
clined and still inclines towards the first interpretation, for 
it has said nothing definite about any new tasks, but has 
argued constantly as though the "mass movement" relieves 
us of the necessity of clearly understanding and fulfilling the 
tasks it sets before us. We need only point out that Rabo- 
cheye Dyelo considered that it was impossible to set the over- 
throw of the autocracy as the first task of the mass working- 
class movement, and that it degraded this task (in the name of 
the mass movement) to that of a struggle for immediate polit- 
ical demands (Reply, p. 25). 

We shall pass over the article by B. Krichevsky, editor of 
Rabocheye Dyelo, entitled "The Economic and the Political 
Struggle in the Russian Movement", published in No. 7 of 
that paper, in which these very mistakes* are repeated, and 

* The "stages theory", or the theory of "timid zigzags", in the 
political struggle is expressed, for example, in this article, in the fol- 
lowing way: "Political demands, which in their character are common 
to the whole of Russia, should, however, at first (this was written in 
August 1900!) correspond to the experience gained by the given stra- 
tum [sicl] of workers in the economic struggle. Only [!] on the basis 
of this experience can and should political agitation be taken up," 
etc. (p. 11). On page 4, the author, protesting against what he regards 
as the absolutely unfounded charge of Economist heresy, pathetically 
exclaims: "What Social-Democrat does not know that according to 
the theories of Marx and Engels the economic interests of certain classes 
play a decisive role in history, and, consequently, that particularly 
the proletariat's struggle for its economic interests must be of para- 
mount importance in its class development and struggle for eman- 
cipation?" (Our italics.) The word "consequently" is completely irre- 
levant. The fact that economic interests play a decisive role does 
not in the least imply that the economic (i.e., trade-union) struggle 
is of prime importance; for the most essential, the "decisive" interests 
of classes can be satisfied only by radical political changes in general. 
In particular the fundamental economic interests of the proletariat 
can be satisfied only by a political revolution that will replace the die- 



proceed directly to Rabocheye Dyelo, No. 10. We shall not, 
of course, enter in detail into the various objections raised 
by Krichevsky and Martynov against Zarya and Iskra. We 
are here interested solely in the basis of principles on which 
Rabocheye Dyelo, in its tenth issue, took its stand. Thus, we 
shall not examine the strange fact that Rabocheye Dyelo saw a 
"diametrical contradiction" between the proposition: 

"Social-Democracy does not tie its hands, it does not restrict its 
activities to some one preconceived plan or method of political strug- 
gle; it recognises all means of struggle as long as they correspond to 
the forces at the disposal of the Party," etc. {Iskra, No. 1)*. 

and the proposition: 

"Without a strong organisation skilled in waging political struggle 
under all circumstances and at all times, there can be no ques- 
tion of that systematic plan of action, illumined by firm principles and 
steadfastly carried out, which alone is worthy of the name of tactics" 
{Iskra, No. 4).** 

To confound recognition, in principle, of all means of 
struggle, of all plans and methods, provided they are ex- 
pedient, with the demand at a given political moment to be 
guided by a strictly observed plan is tantamount, if we are to 
talk of tactics, to confounding the recognition by medical 
science of various methods of treating diseases with the ne- 
cessity for adopting a certain definite method of treatment for 
a given disease. The point is, however, that Rabocheye 
Dyelo, itself the victim of a disease which we have called 
bowing to spontaneity, refuses to recognise any "method of 
treatment" for that disease. Hence, it has made the remark- 
able discovery that "tactics-as-plan contradicts the fun- 
damental spirit of Marxism" (No. 10, p. 18), that tactics 
are "a process of growth of Party tasks, which grow together 
with the Party" (p. 11, Rabocheye Dyelo' s italics). This remark 

tatorship of the bourgeoisie by the dictatorship of the proletariat. 
Krichevsky repeats the arguments of the "V. V.'s of Russian Social- 
Democracy" (viz., that politics follows economics, etc.) and of the Bern- 
steinians of German Social-Democracy (e.g., by similar arguments 
Woltmann sought to prove that the workers must first of all acquire 
"economic power" before they can think about political revolution). 
*See present edition, Vol. 4, pp. 370-71.— Ed. 
**See present volume, p. 18.— Ed. 



has every chance of becoming a celebrated maxim, a per- 
manent monument to the Rabocheye Dyelo "trend". To the 
question, whither? the leading organ replies: Movement is a 
process of changing the distance between the starting-point 
and subsequent points of the movement. This matchless 
example of profundity is not merely a curiosity (were it 
that, it would not be worth dealing with at length), but 
the programme of a whole trend, the very programme which 
R. M. (in the "Separate Supplement" to Rabochaya Mysl) 
expressed in the words: That struggle is desirable which is 
possible, and the struggle which is possible is that which is 
going on at the given moment. This is precisely the trend of 
unbounded opportunism, which passively adapts itself to 

"Tactics-as-plan contradicts the essence of Marxism!" 
But this is a slander of Marxism; it means turning Marxism 
into the caricature held up by the Narodniks in their struggle 
against us. It means belittling the initiative and energy of 
class-conscious fighters, whereas Marxism, on the contrary, 
gives a gigantic impetus to the initiative and energy of the 
Social-Democrat, opens up for him the widest perspectives, 
and (if one may so express it) places at his disposal the mighty 
force of many millions of workers "spontaneously" rising for 
the struggle. The entire history of international Social- 
Democracy teems with plans advanced now by one, now by 
another, political leader, some confirming the far-sighted- 
ness and the correct political and organisational views of 
their authors and others revealing their short-sightedness and 
their political errors. At the time when Germany was at one of 
the crucial turning-points in its history — the formation 
of the Empire, the opening of the Reichstag, and the granting 
of universal suffrage — Liebknecht had one plan for Social- 
Democratic politics and work in general, and Schweitzer had 
another. When the anti-socialist law came down on the heads 
of the German socialists, Most and Hasselmann had one 
plan — they were prepared then and there to call for violence 
and terror; Hochberg, Schramm, and (partly) Bernstein had 
another — they began to preach to the Social-Democrats 
that they themselves had provoked the enactment of the law 
by being unreasonably bitter and revolutionary, and must 
now earn forgiveness by their exemplary conduct. There was 



yet a third plan proposed by those who prepared and carried 
out the publication of an illegal organ. It is easy, of course, 
with hindsight, many years after the struggle over the 
selection of the path to be followed, and after history has 
pronounced its verdict as to the expediency of the path se- 
lected, to utter profound maxims about the growth of 
Party tasks, which grow together with the Party. But at 
a time of confusion,* when the Russian "Critics" and Econo- 
mists are degrading Social-Democracy to the level of trade- 
unionism, and when the terrorists are strongly advocating 
the adoption of "tactics-as-plan" that repeats the old mis- 
takes, at such a time, to confine oneself to profundities of 
this kind, means simply to issue to oneself a "certificate of 
poverty". At a time when many Russian Social-Democrats 
suffer from a lack of initiative and energy, from an inade- 
quate "scope of political propaganda, agitation, and organi- 
sation,"** from a lack of "plans" for a broader organisation 
of revolutionary work, at such a time, to declare that "tac- 
tics-as-plan" contradicts the essence of Marxism means not 
only to vulgarise Marxism in the realm of theory, but to drag 
the Party backward in practice. 

Rabocheye Dyelo goes on to sermonise: 

"The task of the revolutionary Social-Democrat is only to accel- 
erate objective development by his conscious work, not to obviate it 
or substitute his own subjective plans for this development. Iskra 
knows all this in theory; but the enormous importance which Marxism 
justly attaches to conscious revolutionary work causes it in practice, 
owing to its doctrinaire view of tactics, to belittle the significance of 
the objective or the spontaneous element of development" (p. 18). 

Another example of the extraordinary theoretical confu- 
sion worthy of Mr. V. V. and his fraternity. We would ask 
our philosopher: how may a designer of subjective plans 
"belittle" objective development? Obviously by losing sight 
of the fact that this objective development creates or strength- 

* "Ein Jahr der Verwirrung" ("A Year of Confusion") is the ti- 
tle Mehring gave to the chapter of his History of German Social-Democ- 
racy in which he describes the hesitancy and lack of determination 
displayed at first by the socialists in selecting the "tactics-as-plan" 
for the new situation. 

** Leading article in Iskra, No. 1. (See present edition, Vol. 4, 
p. 369.— Ed.) 



ens, destroys or weakens certain classes, strata, or groups, 
certain nations or groups of nations, etc., and in this way 
serves to determine a given international political alignment 
of forces, or the position adopted by revolutionary parties, 
etc. If the designer of plans did that, his guilt would not be 
that he belittled the spontaneous element, but, on the con- 
trary, that he belittled the conscious element, for he would 
then show that he lacked the "consciousness" properly to 
understand objective development. Hence, the very talk of 
"estimating the relative significance" (Rabocheye Dyelo's 
italics) of spontaneity and consciousness itself reveals a 
complete lack of "consciousness". If certain "spontaneous 
elements of development" can be grasped at all by human 
understanding, then an incorrect estimation of them will be 
tantamount to "belittling the conscious element". But if 
they cannot be grasped, then we do not know them, and 
therefore cannot speak of them. What then is Krichevsky 
discussing? If he thinks that Iskra's "subjective plans" are 
erroneous (as he in fact declares them to be), he should have 
shown what objective facts they ignore, and only then 
charged Iskra with lacking political consciousness for ignoring 
them, with "belittling the conscious element", to use his 
own words. If, however, displeased with subjective plans, 
he can bring forward no argument other than that of "belit- 
tling the spontaneous element" (!), he merely shows: (1) that, 
theoretically, he understands Marxism a la Kareyev and 
Mikhailovsky, who have been sufficiently ridiculed by Bel- 
tov; 170 and (2) that, practically, he is quite satisfied with 
the "spontaneous elements of development" that have drawn 
our legal Marxists towards Bernsteinism and our Social-Dem- 
ocrats towards Economism, and that he is "full of wrath" 
against those who have determined at all costs to divert 
Russian Social-Democracy from the path of "spontaneous" 

Further, there follow things that are positively droll. 
"Just as human beings will reproduce in the old-fashioned 
way despite all the discoveries of natural science, so the 
birth of a new social order will come about, in the future 
too, mainly as a result of elemental outbursts, despite all 
the discoveries of social science and the increase in the num- 
ber of conscious fighters" (p. 19). Just as our grandfathers in 



their old-fashioned wisdom used to say, Anyone can bring 
children into the world, so today the "modern socialists" 
(d la Nartsis Tuporylov) 171 say in their wisdom, Anyone 
can participate in the spontaneous birth of a new social order. 
We too hold that anyone can. All that is required for par- 
ticipation of that kind is to yield to Economism when Econo- 
mism reigns and to terrorism when terrorism arises. Thus, in 
the spring of this year, when it was so important to utter a 
note of warning against infatuation with terrorism, Rabo- 
cheye Dyelo stood in amazement, confronted by a problem 
that was "new" to it. And now, six months after, when the 
problem has become less topical, it presents us at one and 
the same time with the declaration: "We think that it is not 
and should not be the task of Social-Democracy to counter- 
act the rise of terroristic sentiments" (Rabocheye Dyelo, No. 
10, p. 23), and with the Conference resolution: "The Confer- 
ence regards systematic and aggressive terror as being inop- 
portune" (Two Conferences, p. 18). How beautifully clear and 
coherent this is! Not to counteract, but to declare inoppor- 
tune, and to declare it in such a way that unsystematic 
and defensive terror does not come within the scope of the 
"resolution". It must be admitted that such a resolution is 
extremely safe and is fully insured against error, just as a 
man who talks, but says nothing, insures himself against 
error. All that is needed to frame such a resolution is an abil- 
ity to keep at the tail-end of the movement. When Iskra 
ridiculed Rabocheye Dyelo for declaring the question of ter- 
ror to be new,* the latter angrily accused Iskra of "having 
the incredible effrontery to impose upon the Party organisa- 
tion solutions of tactical questions proposed by a group of 
emigrant writers more than fifteen years ago" (p. 24). Effron- 
tery indeed, and what an overestimation of the conscious 
element — first to resolve questions theoretically before- 
hand, and then to try to convince the organisation, the Par- 
ty, and the masses of the correctness of this solution!** How 
much better it would be to repeat the elements and, without 
"imposing" anything upon anybody, swing with every 

* See present volume, p. 18-20.— Ed. 
** Nor must it be forgotten that in solving "theoretically" the prob- 
lem of terror, the Emancipation of Labour group generalised the ex- 
perience of the antecedent revolutionary movement. 



"turn" — whether in the direction of Economism or in the 
direction of terrorism. Rabocheye Dyelo even generalises this 
great precept of worldly wisdom and accuses Iskra and 
Zarya of "setting up their programme against the movement, 
like a spirit hovering over the formless chaos" (p. 29). But 
what else is the function of Social-Democracy if not to be a 
"spirit" that not only hovers over the spontaneous movement, 
but also raises this movement to the level of "its programme''"] 
Surely, it is not its function to drag at the tail of the move- 
ment. At best, this would be of no service to the movement; 
at worst, it would be exceedingly harmful. Rabocheye Dyelo, 
however, not only follows this "tactics-as-process", but ele- 
vates it to a principle, so that it would be more correct to 
describe its tendency not as opportunism, but as tail-ism 
(from the word tail). And it must be admitted that those 
who are determined always to follow behind the movement 
and be its tail are absolutely and forever guaranteed against 
"belittling the spontaneous element of development". 

And so, we have become convinced that the fundamental 
error committed by the "new trend" in Russian Social-Democ- 
racy is its bowing to spontaneity and its failure to under- 
stand that the spontaneity of the masses demands a high 
degree of consciousness from us Social-Democrats. The 
greater the spontaneous upsurge of the masses and the more 
widespread the movement, the more rapid, incomparably so, 
the demand for greater consciousness in the theoretical, po- 
litical and organisational work of Social-Democracy. 

The spontaneous upsurge of the masses in Russia pro- 
ceeded (and continues) with such rapidity that the young 
Social-Democrats proved unprepared to meet these gigantic 
tasks. This unpreparedness is our common misfortune, the 
misfortune of all Russian Social-Democrats. The upsurge 
of the masses proceeded and spread with uninterrupted con- 
tinuity; it not only continued in the places where it began, 
but spread to new localities and to new strata of the popu- 
lation (under the influence of the working-class movement, 
there was a renewed ferment among the student youth, among 
the intellectuals generally, and even among the peasantry). 



Revolutionaries, however, lagged behind this upsurge, both 
in their "theories" and in their activity; they failed to estab- 
lish a constant and continuous organisation capable of 
leading the whole movement. 

In Chapter I, we established that Rabocheye Dyelo belit- 
tled our theoretical tasks and that it "spontaneously" repeat- 
ed the fashionable catchword "freedom of criticism"; those 
who repeated this catchword lacked the "consciousness" 
to understand that the positions of the opportunist "Critics" 
and those of the revolutionaries in Germany and in Russia 
are diametrically opposed. 

In the following chapters, we shall show how this bowing 
to spontaneity found expression in the sphere of the politi- 
cal tasks and in the organisational work of Social-Democ- 



We shall again begin by praising Rabocheye Dyelo. "Liter- 
ature of Exposure and the Proletarian Struggle" is the title 
Martynov gave the article on his differences with Iskra pub- 
lished in Rabocheye Dyelo, No. 10. He formulated the sub- 
stance of the differences as follows: "We cannot confine our- 
selves solely to exposing the system that stands in its [the 
working-class party's] path of development. We must also 
react to the immediate and current interests of the proletar- 
iat. ... Iskra ... is in fact an organ of revolutionary opposition 
that exposes the state of affairs in our country, particularly 
the political state of affairs.... We, however, work and shall 
continue to work for the cause of the working class in close 
organic contact with the proletarian struggle" (p. 63). One 
cannot help being grateful to Martynov for this formula. It 
is of outstanding general interest, because substantially it 
embraces not only our disagreements with Rabocheye Dyelo, 
but the general disagreement between ourselves and the 
"Economists" on the political struggle. We have shown that 
the "Economists" do not altogether repudiate "politics", 
but that they are constantly straying from the Social-Demo- 
cratic to the trade-unionist conception of politics. Martynov 



strays in precisely this way, and we shall therefore take his 
views as a model of Economist error on this question. As we 
shall endeavour to prove, neither the authors of the "Sepa- 
rate Supplement" to Rabochaya Mysl nor the authors of the 
manifesto issued by the Self-Emancipation Group, nor the 
authors of the Economist letter published in Iskra, No. 12, 
will have any right to complain against this choice. 


Everyone knows that the economic* struggle of the Rus- 
sian workers underwent widespread development and con- 
solidation simultaneously with the production of "litera- 
ture" exposing economic (factory and occupational) conditions. 
The "leaflets" were devoted mainly to the exposure of the 
factory system, and very soon a veritable passion for expo- 
sures was roused among the workers. As soon as the workers 
realised that the Social-Democratic study circles desired to, 
and could, supply them with a new kind of leaflet that told 
the whole truth about their miserable existence, about their 
unbearably hard toil, and their lack of rights, they began to 
send in, actually flood us with, correspondence from the fac- 
tories and workshops. This "exposure literature" created a 
tremendous sensation, not only in the particular factory 
exposed in the given leaflet, but in all the factories to which 
news of the revealed facts spread. And since the poverty and 
want among the workers in the various enterprises and in 
the various trades are much the same, the "truth about the 
life of the workers" stirred everyone. Even among the most 
backward workers, a veritable passion arose to "get into 
print" — a noble passion for this rudimentary form of war 
against the whole of the present social system which is based 
upon robbery and oppression. And in the overwhelming ma- 
jority of cases these "leaflets" were in truth a declaration of 

* To avoid misunderstanding, we must point out that here, and 
throughout this pamphlet, by economic struggle, we imply (in keeping 
with the accepted usage among us) the "practical economic struggle", 
which Engels, in the passage quoted above, described as "resistance 
to the capitalists", and which in free countries is known as the organ- 
ised-labour syndical, or trade-union struggle. 



war, because the exposures served greatly to agitate the 
workers; they evoked among them common demands for the 
removal of the most glaring outrages and roused in them a 
readiness to support the demands with strikes. Finally, the 
employers themselves were compelled to recognise the signif- 
icance of these leaflets as a declaration of war, so much so 
that in a large number of cases they did not even wait for 
the outbreak of hostilities. As is always the case, the mere 
publication of these exposures made them effective, and they 
acquired the significance of a strong moral influence. On more 
than one occasion, the mere appearance of a leaflet proved 
sufficient to secure the satisfaction of all or part of the de- 
mands put forward. In a word, economic (factory) exposures 
were and remain an important lever in the economic struggle. 
And they will continue to retain this significance as long as 
there is capitalism, which makes it necessary for the workers 
to defend themselves. Even in the most advanced countries 
of Europe it can still be seen that the exposure of abuses in 
some backward trade, or in some forgotten branch of domestic 
industry, serves as a starting-point for the awakening of 
class-consciousness, for the beginning of a trade-union strug- 
gle, and for the spread of socialism.* 

The overwhelming majority of Russian Social-Democrats 
have of late been almost entirely absorbed by this work of 
organising the exposure of factory conditions. Suffice it to 
recall Rabochaya Mysl to see the extent to which they have 
been absorbed by it — so much so, indeed, that they have 

* In the present chapter we deal only with the political struggle, 
in its broader or narrower meaning. Therefore, we note only in pass- 
ing, merely as a curiosity, Rabocheye Dyelo's charge that Iskra is 
"too restrained" in regard to the economic struggle (Two Conferences , 
p. 27, rehashed by Martynov in his pamphlet, Social-Democracy and 
the Working Class). If the accusers computed by the hundredweights 
or reams (as they are so fond of doing) any given year's discus- 
sion of the economic struggle in the industrial section of Iskra, in 
comparison with the corresponding sections of Rabocheye Dyelo and 
Rabochaya Mysl combined, they would easily see that the latter lag 
behind even in this respect. Apparently, the realisation of this simple 
truth compels them to resort to arguments that clearly reveal their 
confusion. "Iskra," they write, "willy-nilly [!] is compelled [!] to 
reckon with the imperative demands of life and to publish at least 
[!!] correspondence about the working-class movement" (Two Con- 
ferences, p. 27). Now this is really a crushing argument! 



lost sight of the fact that this, taken by itself, is in essence 
still not Social-Democratic work, but merely trade-union 
work. As a matter of fact, the exposures merely dealt with 
the relations between the workers in a given trade and their 
employers, and all they achieved was that the sellers of la- 
bour-power learned to sell their "commodity" on better terms 
and to fight the purchasers over a purely commercial deal. 
These exposures could have served (if properly utilised by an 
organisation of revolutionaries) as a beginning and a compo- 
nent part of Social-Democratic activity; but they could also 
have led (and, given a worshipful attitude towards sponta- 
neity, were bound to lead) to a "purely trade-union" struggle 
and to a non-Social-Democratic working-class movement. 
Social-Democracy leads the struggle of the working class, 
not only for better terms for the sale of labour-power, but 
for the abolition of the social system that compels the prop- 
ertyless to sell themselves to the rich. Social-Democracy 
represents the working class, not in its relation to a given 
group of employers alone, but in its relation to all classes of 
modern society and to the state as an organised political 
force. Hence, it follows that not only must Social-Democrats 
not confine themselves exclusively to the economic struggle, 
but that they must not allow the organisation of economic 
exposures to become the predominant part of their activities. 
We must take up actively the political education of the work- 
ing class and the development of its political consciousness. 
Now that Zarya and Iskra have made the first attack upon 
Economism, "all are agreed" on this (although some agree 
only in words, as we shall soon see). 

The question arises, what should political education con- 
sist in? Can it be confined to the propaganda of working- 
class hostility to the autocracy? Of course not. It is not enough 
to explain to the workers that they are politically oppressed 
(any more than it is to explain to them that their interests 
are antagonistic to the interests of the employers). Agita- 
tion must be conducted with regard to every concrete exam- 
ple of this oppression (as we have begun to carry on agitation 
round concrete examples of economic oppression). Inasmuch 
as this oppression affects the most diverse classes of society, 
inasmuch as it manifests itself in the most varied spheres 
of life and activity — vocational, civic, personal, family, 



religious, scientific, etc., etc. — is it not evident that we shall 
not be fulfilling our task of developing the political conscious- 
ness of the workers if we do not undertake the organisation 
of the political exposure of the autocracy in all its aspects? 
In order to carry on agitation round concrete instances of 
oppression, these instances must be exposed (as it is neces- 
sary to expose factory abuses in order to carry on economic 

One might think this to be clear enough. It turns out, 
however, that it is only in words that "all" are agreed on 
the need to develop political consciousness, in all its aspects. 
It turns out that Rabocheye Dyelo, for example, far from 
tackling the task of organising (or making a start in organis- 
ing) comprehensive political exposure, is even trying 
to drag Iskra, which has undertaken this task, away from it. 
Listen to the following: "The political struggle of the work- 
ing class is merely [it is certainly not "merely"] the most 
developed, wide, and effective form of economic struggle" 
(programme of Rabocheye Dyelo, published in issue No. 1, 
p. 3). "The Social-Democrats are now confronted with the 
task of lending the economic struggle itself, as far as possi- 
ble, a political character" (Martynov, Rabocheye Dyelo, No. 
10, p. 42). "The economic struggle is the most widely appli- 
cable means of drawing the masses into active political 
struggle" (resolution adopted by the Conference of the Union 
Abroad and "amendments" thereto, Two Conferences , pp. 11 
and 17). As the reader will observe, all these theses permeate 
Rabocheye Dyelo from its very first number to the latest 
"Instructions to the Editors", and all of them evidently 
express a single view regarding political agitation and 
struggle. Let us examine this view from the standpoint of 
the opinion prevailing among all Economists, that politi- 
cal agitation must follow economic agitation. Is it true that, 
in general,* the economic struggle "is the most widely appli- 

* We say "in general", because Rabocheye Dyelo speaks of general 
principles and of the general tasks of the Party as a whole. Undoubt- 
edly, cases occur in practice when politics really must follow econom- 
ics, but only Economists can speak of this in a resolution intended 
to apply to the whole of Russia. Cases do occur when it is possible 
"right from the beginning" to carry on political agitation "exclusive- 
ly on an economic basis"; yet Rabocheye Dyelo came in the end to 



cable means" of drawing the masses into the political strug- 
gle? It is entirely untrue. Any and every manifestation of 
police tyranny and autocratic outrage, not only in connec- 
tion with the economic struggle, is not one whit less "wide- 
ly applicable" as a means of "drawing in" the masses. The 
rural superintendents and the flogging of peasants, the cor- 
ruption of the officials and the police treatment of the "com- 
mon people" in the cities, the fight against the famine-strick- 
en and the suppression of the popular striving towards 
enlightenment and knowledge, the extortion of taxes and 
the persecution of the religious sects, the humiliating treat- 
ment of soldiers and the barrack methods in the treatment 
of the students and liberal intellectuals — do all these and 
a thousand other similar manifestations of tyranny, though 
not directly connected with the "economic" struggle, repre- 
sent, in general, less "widely applicable" means and occasions 
for political agitation and for drawing the masses into the 
political struggle? The very opposite is true. Of the sum- 
total of cases in which the workers suffer (either on their 
own account or on account of those closely connected with 
them) from tyranny, violence, and the lack of rights, un- 
doubtedly only a small minority represent cases of police 
tyranny in the trade-union struggle as such. Why then 
should we, beforehand, restrict the scope of political agi- 
tation by declaring only one of the means to be "the most 
widely applicable", when Social-Democrats must have, in 
addition, other, generally speaking, no less "widely appli- 
cable" means? 

In the dim and distant past (a full year ago!...) Rabo- 
cheye Dyelo wrote: "The masses begin to understand immedi- 
ate political demands after one strike, or at all events, after 
several", "as soon as the government sets the police and gen- 
darmerie against them" [August (No. 7) 1900, p. 15]. This 
opportunist theory of stages has now been rejected by the 
Union Abroad, which makes a concession to us by declaring: 
"There is no need whatever to conduct political agitation 

the conclusion that "there is no need for this whatever" (Two Confer- 
ences, p. 11). In the following chapter, we shall show that the tactics 
of the "politicians" and revolutionaries not only do not ignore the 
trade-union tasks of Social-Democracy, but that, on the contrary, 
they alone can secure their consistent fulfilment. 



right from the beginning, exclusively on an economic basis" 
(Two Conferences, p. 11). The Union's repudiation of part of 
its former errors will show the future historian of Russian 
Social-Democracy better than any number of lengthy argu- 
ments the depths to which our Economists have degraded 
socialism! But the Union Abroad must be very naive indeed 
to imagine that the abandonment of one form of restricting 
politics will induce us to agree to another form. Would it 
not be more logical to say, in this case too, that the economic 
struggle should be conducted on the widest possible basis, 
that it should always be utilised for political agitation, but 
that "there is no need whatever" to regard the economic 
struggle as the most widely applicable means of drawing 
the masses into active political struggle? 

The Union Abroad attaches significance to the fact that 
it has substituted the phrase "most widely applicable means" 
for the phrase "the best means" contained in one of the reso- 
lutions of the Fourth Congress of the Jewish Workers' 
Union (Bund). We confess that we find it difficult to say 
which of these resolutions is the better one. In our opinion 
they are both worse. Both the Union Abroad and the Bund 
fall into the error (partly, perhaps unconsciously, under the 
influence of tradition) of giving an Economist, trade-union- 
ist interpretation to politics. Whether this is done by em- 
ploying the word "best" or the words "most widely applica- 
ble" makes no essential difference whatever. Had the Union 
Abroad said that "political agitation on an economic basis" 
is the most widely applied (not "applicable") means, it would 
have been right in regard to a certain period in the develop- 
ment of our Social-Democratic movement. It would have 
been right in regard to the Economists and to many (if not 
the majority) of the practical workers of 1898-1901; for these 
practical Economists applied political agitation (to the ex- 
tent that they applied it at all) almost exclusively on an eco- 
nomic basis. Political agitation on such lines was recognised 
and, as we have seen, even recommended by Rabochaya Mysl 
and the Self-Emancipation Group. Rabocheye Dyelo should 
have strongly condemned the fact that the useful work of 
economic agitation was accompanied by the harmful 
restriction of the political struggle; instead, it declares the 
means most widely applied (by the Economists) to be the most 



widely applicable] It is not surprising that when we call 
these people Economists, they can do nothing but pour every 
manner of abuse upon us; call us "mystifiers", "disrupters", 
"papal nuncios", and "slanderers"*; go complaining to the 
whole world that we have mortally offended them; and de- 
clare almost on oath that "not a single Social-Democratic 
organisation is now tinged with Economism".** Oh, those 
evil, slanderous politicians! They must have deliberately 
invented this Economism, out of sheer hatred of mankind, 
in order mortally to offend other people. 

What concrete, real meaning attaches to Martynov's 
words when he sets before Social-Democracy the task of 
"lending the economic struggle itself a political character"? 
The economic struggle is the collective struggle of the work- 
ers against their employers for better terms in the sale 
of their labour-power, for better living and working condi- 
tions. This struggle is necessarily a trade-union struggle, 
because working conditions differ greatly in different trades, 
and, consequently, the struggle to improve them can only 
be conducted on the basis of trade organisations (in the West- 
ern countries, through trade unions; in Russia, through 
temporary trade associations and through leaflets, etc.). 
Lending "the economic struggle itself a political character" 
means, therefore, striving to secure satisfaction of these 
trade demands, the improvement of working conditions in 
each separate trade by means of "legislative and administra- 
tive measures" (as Martynov puts it on the ensuing page of 
his article, p. 43). This is precisely what all workers' trade 
unions do and always have done. Read the works of 
the soundly scientific (and "soundly" opportunist) Mr. and 
Mrs. Webb and you will see that the British trade unions 
long ago recognised, and have long been carrying out, the 
task of "lending the economic struggle itself a political char- 
acter"; they have long been fighting for the right to strike, 
for the removal of all legal hindrances to the co-operative 
and trade-union movements, for laws to protect women and 
children, for the improvement of labour conditions by means 
of health and factory legislation, etc. 

* These are the precise expressions used in Two Conferences, pp. 
31, 32, 28 and 80. 

** Two Conferences, p. 32. 



Thus, the pompous phrase about "lending the economic 
struggle itself a political character", which sounds so "ter- 
rifically" profound and revolutionary, serves as a screen to 
conceal what is in fact the traditional striving to degrade 
Social-Democratic politics to the level of trade-union poli- 
tics. Under the guise of rectifying the one-sidedness of 
Iskra, which, it is alleged, places "the revolutionising of 
dogma higher than the revolutionising of life",* we are pre- 
sented with the struggle for economic reforms as if it were 
something entirely new. In point of fact, the phrase "lend- 
ing the economic struggle itself a political character" means 
nothing more than the struggle for economic reforms. Marty- 
nov himself might have come to this simple conclusion, 
had he pondered over the significance of his own words. "Our 
Party," he says, training his heaviest guns on Iskra, 
"could and should have presented concrete demands to the 
government for legislative and administrative measures 
against economic exploitation, unemployment, famine, 
etc." {Rabocheye Dyelo, No. 10, pp. 42-43). Concrete de- 
mands for measures — does not this mean demands for so- 
cial reforms? Again we ask the impartial reader: Are we 
slandering the Rabocheye Dyelo-ites (may I be forgiven for 
this awkward, currently used designation!) by calling them 
concealed Bernsteinians when, as their point of disagree- 
ment with Iskra, they advance their thesis on the necessity 
of struggling for economic reforms? 

Revolutionary Social-Democracy has always included 
the struggle for reforms as part of its activities. But it uti- 
lises "economic" agitation for the purpose of presenting to 
the government, not only demands for all sorts of meas- 
ures, but also (and primarily) the demand that it cease 
to be an autocratic government. Moreover, it considers it 
its duty to present this demand to the government on the 
basis, not of the economic struggle alone, but of all mani- 
festations in general of public and political life. In a word, 

* Rabocheye Dyelo, No. 10, p. 60. This is the Martynov variation 
of the application, which we have characterised above, of the thesis 
"every step of real movement is more important than a dozen pro- 
grammes" to the present chaotic state of our movement. In fact, this 
is merely a translation into Russian of the notorious Bernsteinian 
sentence: "The movement is everything, the final aim is nothing." 



it subordinates the struggle for reforms, as the part to the 
whole, to the revolutionary struggle for freedom and for 
socialism. Martynov, however, resuscitates the theory of 
stages in a new form and strives to prescribe, as it were, 
an exclusively economic path of development for the politi- 
cal struggle. By advancing at this moment, when the revo- 
lutionary movement is on the upgrade, an alleged special 
"task" of struggling for reforms, he is dragging the Party 
backwards and is playing into the hands of both "Economist" 
and liberal opportunism. 

To proceed. Shamefacedly hiding the struggle for reforms 
behind the pompous thesis of "lending the economic struggle 
itself a political character", Martynov advanced, as if it 
were a special point, exclusively economic (indeed, exclu- 
sively factory) reforms. As to the reason for his doing that, 
we do not know it. Carelessness, perhaps? Yet if he had in 
mind something else besides "factory" reforms, then the whole 
of his thesis, which we have cited, loses all sense. Perhaps 
he did it because he considers it possible and probable that 
the government will make "concessions" only in the econom- 
ic sphere?* If so, then it is a strange delusion. Concessions 
are also possible and are made in the sphere of legislation 
concerning flogging, passports, land redemption payments, 
religious sects, the censorship, etc., etc. "Economic" con- 
cessions (or pseudo-concessions) are, of course, the cheapest 
and most advantageous from the government's point of 
view, because by these means it hopes to win the confidence 
of the working masses. For this very reason, we Social-Dem- 
ocrats must not under any circumstances or in any way 
whatever create grounds for the belief (or the misunderstand- 
ing) that we attach greater value to economic reforms, 
or that we regard them as being particularly important, etc. 
"Such demands," writes Martynov, speaking of the concrete 
demands for legislative and administrative measures referred 
to above, "would not be merely a hollow sound, because, 
promising certain palpable results, they might be actively 
supported by the working masses...." We are not Economists, 

* P. 43. "Of course, when we advise the workers to present certain 
economic demands to the government, we do so because in the eco- 
nomic sphere the autocratic government is, of necessity, prepared to 
make certain concessions!" 



oh no! We only cringe as slavishly before the "palpableness" 
of concrete results as do the Bernsteins, the Prokopoviches, 
the Struves, the R. M.'s, and tutti quantil We only wish 
to make it understood (together with Nartsis Tuporylov) 
that all which "does not promise palpable results" is merely 
a "hollow sound"! We are only trying to argue as if the work- 
ing masses were incapable (and had not already proved their 
capabilities, notwithstanding those who ascribe their own 
Philistinism to them) of actively supporting every protest 
against the autocracy, even if it promises absolutely no pal- 
pable results whatever*. 

Let us take, for example, the very "measures" for the re- 
lief of unemployment and the famine that Martynov himself 
advances. Rabocheye Dyelo is engaged, judging by what it 
has promised, in drawing up and elaborating a programme of 
"concrete [in the form of bills?] demands for legislative 
and administrative measures", "promising palpable results", 
while Iskra, which "constantly places the revolutionising 
of dogma higher than the revolutionising of life", has tried 
to explain the inseparable connection between unemploy- 
ment and the whole capitalist system, has given warning that 
"famine is coming", has exposed the police "fight against the 
famine-stricken", and the outrageous "provisional penal servi- 
tude regulations"; and Zarya has published a special reprint, 
in the form of an agitational pamphlet, of a section of its 
"Review of Home Affairs", dealing with the famine.* But 
good God! How "one-sided" were these incorrigibly narrow 
and orthodox doctrinaires, how deaf to the calls of "life 
itself"! Their articles contained — oh horror! — not a single, 
can you imagine it? not a single "concrete demand" "prom- 
ising palpable results"! Poor doctrinaires! They ought 
to be sent to Krichevsky and Martynov to be taught that 
tactics are a process of growth, of that which grows, etc., 
and that the economic struggle itself should be given 
a political character! 

"In addition to its immediate revolutionary significance, 
the economic struggle of the workers against the employers 
and the government ["economic struggle against the govern- 
ment"!] has also this significance: it constantly brings home 

See present volume, pp. 253-74. — Ed. 



to the workers the fact that they have no political rights" 
(Martynov, p. 44). We quote this passage, not in order to 
repeat for the hundredth and thousandth time what has been 
said above, but in order to express particular thanks to 
Martynov for this excellent new formula: "the economic 
struggle of the workers against the employers and the govern- 
ment". What a gem! With what inimitable skill and mas- 
tery in eliminating all partial disagreements and shades 
of differences among Economists this clear and concise prop- 
osition expresses the quintessence of Economism, from sum- 
moning the workers "to the political struggle, which they 
carry on in the general interest, for the improvement of 
the conditions of all the workers",* continuing through the 
theory of stages, and ending in the resolution of the Confer- 
ence on the "most widely applicable", etc. "Economic strug- 
gle against the government" is precisely trade-unionist poli- 
tics, which is still very far from being Social-Democratic 


"What a large number of Social-Democratic Lomonosovs 
have appeared among us lately!" observed a comrade one 
day, having in mind the astonishing propensity of many who 
are inclined toward Economism to, arrive, "necessarily, 
by their own under standing", at great truths (e.g., that the 
economic struggle stimulates the workers to ponder over 
their lack of rights) and in doing so to ignore, with the su- 
preme contempt of born geniuses, all that has been produced 
by the antecedent development of revolutionary thought 
and of the revolutionary movement. Lomonosov-Martynov 
is precisely such a born genius. We need but glance at his 
article "Urgent Questions" to see how by "his own under- 
standing" he arrives at what was long ago said by Axelrod 
(of whom our Lomonosov, naturally, says not a word); 
how, for instance, he is beginning to understand that we 
cannot ignore the opposition of such or such strata of the 
bourgeoisie {Rabocheye Dyelo, No. 9, pp. 61, 62, 71; compare 
this with Rabocheye Dyelo's Reply to Axelrod, pp. 22, 23-24), 

* Rabochaya Mysl, "Separate Supplement", p. 14. 



etc. But alas, he is only "arriving" and is only "beginning", 
not more than that, for so little has he understood Axelrod's 
ideas, that he talks about "the economic struggle against 
the employers and the government". For three years (1898- 
1901) Rabocheye Dyelo has tried hard to understand Axel- 
rod, but has so far not understood him! Can one of the rea- 
sons be that Social-Democracy, "like mankind", always sets 
itself only tasks that can be achieved? 

But the Lomonosovs are distinguished not only by their 
ignorance of many things (that would be but half misfor- 
tune!), but also by their unawareness of their own ignorance. 
Now this is a real misfortune; and it is this misfortune 
that prompts them without further ado to attempt to render 
Plekhanov "more profound". 

"Much water," Lomonosov-Martynov says, "has flowed under the 
bridge since Plekhanov wrote his book [Tasks of the Socialists in 
the Fight Against the Famine in Russia]. The Social-Democrats who 
for a decade led the economic struggle of the working class ... have 
failed as yet to lay down a broad theoretical basis for Party tactics. 
This question has now come to a head, and if we should wish to lay 
down such a theoretical basis, we should certainly have to deepen 
considerably the principles of tactics developed at one time by Ple- 
khanov.... Our present definition of the distinction between propa- 
ganda and agitation would have to be different from Plekhanov's 
[Martynov has just quoted Plekhanov's words: "A propagandist pre- 
sents many ideas to one or a few persons; an agitator presents only one 
or a few ideas, but he presents them to a mass of people."] By propa- 
ganda we would understand the revolutionary explanation of the pres- 
ent social system, entire or in its partial manifestations, whether 
that be done in a form intelligible to individuals or to broad masses. 
By agitation, in the strict sense of the word [sic!], we would understand 
the call upon the masses to undertake definite, concrete actions and 
the promotion of the direct revolutionary intervention of the prole- 
tariat in social life." 

We congratulate Russian — and international — Social- 
Democracy on having found, thanks to Martynov, a new 
terminology, more strict and more profound. Hitherto we 
thought (with Plekhanov, and with all the leaders of the 
international working-class movement) that the propagan- 
dist, dealing with, say, the question of unemployment, must 
explain the capitalistic nature of crises, the cause of their 
inevitability in modern society, the necessity for the trans- 
formation of this society into a socialist society, etc. In a 
word, he must present "many ideas", so many, indeed, that 



they will be understood as an integral whole only by a (com- 
paratively) few persons. The agitator, however, speaking on 
the same subject, will take as an illustration a fact that is 
most glaring and most widely known to his audience, say, 
the death of an unemployed worker's family from starvation, 
the growing impoverishment, etc., and, utilising this fact, 
known to all, will direct his efforts to presenting a single 
idea to the "masses", e.g., the senselessness of the contradic- 
tion between the increase of wealth and the increase of pov- 
erty; he will strive to rouse discontent and indignation among 
the masses against this crying injustice, leaving a more 
complete explanation of this contradiction to the propagan- 
dist. Consequently, the propagandist operates chiefly by 
means of the printed word; the agitator by means of the 
spoken word. The propagandist requires qualities different 
from those of the agitator. Kautsky and Lafargue, for exam- 
ple, we term propagandists; Bebel and Guesde we term agi- 
tators. To single out a third sphere, or third function, of 
practical activity, and to include in this function "the call 
upon the masses to undertake definite concrete actions", 
is sheer nonsense, because the "call", as a single act, either 
naturally and inevitably supplements the theoretical trea- 
tise, propagandist pamphlet, and agitational speech, or 
represents a purely executive function. Let us take, for 
example, the struggle the German Social-Democrats are now 
waging against the corn duties. The theoreticians write re- 
search works on tariff policy, with the "call", say, to struggle 
for commercial treaties and for Free Trade. The propagandist 
does the same thing in the periodical press, and the agitator 
in public speeches. At the present time, the "concrete action" 
of the masses takes the form of signing petitions to the 
Reichstag against raising the corn duties. The call for this 
action comes indirectly from the theoreticians, the propagan- 
dists, and the agitators, and, directly, from the workers 
who take the petition lists to the factories and to private 
homes for the gathering of signatures. According to the 
"Martynov terminology", Kautsky and Bebel are both prop- 
agandists, while those who solicit the signatures are agi- 
tators. Isn't it clear? 

The German example recalled to my mind the German 
word "Verballhornung", which, literally translated, means 



"Ballhorning". Johann Ballhorn, a Leipzig publisher of the 
sixteenth century, published a child's reader in which, as 
was the custom, he introduced a drawing of a cock, but a 
cock without spurs and with a couple of eggs lying near it. 
On the cover he printed the legend, "Revised edition by Jo- 
hann Ballhorn". Ever since then, the Germans describe any 
"revision" that is really a worsening as "ballhorning". And 
one cannot help recalling Ballhorn upon seeing how the 
Martynovs try to render Plekhanov "more profound". 

Why did our Lomonosov "invent" this confusion? In order 
to illustrate how Iskra "devotes attention only to one side 
of the case, just as Plekhanov did a decade and a half ago" 
(39). "With Iskra, propagandist tasks force agitational tasks 
into the background, at least for the present" (52). If we trans- 
late this last proposition from the language of Martynov into 
ordinary human language (because mankind has not yet man- 
aged to learn the newly-invented terminology), we shall 
get the following: with Iskra, the tasks of political propagan- 
da and political agitation force into the background the 
task of "presenting to the government concrete demands for 
legislative and administrative measures" that "promise cer- 
tain palpable results" (or demands for social reforms, that 
is, if we are permitted once again to employ the old terminol- 
ogy of the old mankind not yet grown to Martynov's level). 
We suggest that the reader compare this thesis with the fol- 
lowing tirade: 

"What also astonishes us in these programmes [the programmes 
advanced by revolutionary Social-Democrats] is their constant stress 
upon the benefits of workers' activity in parliament [non-existent in 
Russia], though they completely ignore [thanks to their revolutionary 
nihilism] the importance of workers' participation in the legislative 
manufacturers' assemblies on factory affairs [which do exist in Rus- 
sia] ... or at least the importance of workers' participation in muni- 
cipal bodies...." 

The author of this tirade expresses in a somewhat more 
forthright and clearer manner the very idea which Lomono- 
sov-Martynov discovered by his own understanding. The 
author is R. M., in the "Separate Supplement" to Rabochaya 
Mysl (p. 15). 




In advancing against Iskra his theory of "raising the activ- 
ity of the working masses", Martynov actually betrayed 
an urge to belittle that activity, for he declared the very eco- 
nomic struggle before which all economists grovel to be the 
preferable, particularly important, and "most widely appli- 
cable" means of rousing this activity and its broadest field. 
This error is characteristic, precisely in that it is by no means 
peculiar to Martynov. In reality, it is possible to "raise the 
activity of the working masses" only when this activity is 
not restricted to "political agitation on an economic basis". 
A basic condition for the necessary expansion of political 
agitation is the organisation of comprehensive political expo- 
sure. In no way except by means of such exposures can the 
masses be trained in political consciousness and revolution- 
ary activity. Hence, activity of this kind is one of the most 
important functions of international Social-Democracy 
as a whole, for even political freedom does not in any way 
eliminate exposures; it merely shifts somewhat their sphere 
of direction. Thus, the German party is especially strengthen- 
ing its positions and spreading its influence, thanks parti- 
cularly to the untiring energy with which it is conducting 
its campaign of political exposure. Working-class conscious- 
ness cannot be genuine political consciousness unless the 
workers are trained to respond to all cases of tyranny, oppres- 
sion, violence, and abuse, no matter what class is affected — 
unless they are trained, moreover, to respond from a Social- 
Democratic point of view and no other. The consciousness 
of the working masses cannot be genuine class-consciousness, 
unless the workers learn, from concrete, and above all from 
topical, political facts and events to observe every other so- 
cial class in all the manifestations of its intellectual, ethi- 
cal, and political life; unless they learn to apply in prac- 
tice the materialist analysis and the materialist estimate 
of all aspects of the life and activity of all classes, strata, 
and groups of the population. Those who concentrate the at- 
tention, observation, and consciousness of the working class 
exclusively, or even mainly, upon itself alone are not So- 
cial-Democrats; for the self-knowledge of the working class 
is indissolubly bound up, not solely with a fully clear theo- 



retical understanding — or rather, not so much with the 
theoretical, as with the practical, understanding — 
of the relationships between all the various classes 
of modern society, acquired through the experience of poli- 
tical life. For this reason the conception of the economic 
struggle as the most widely applicable means of drawing the 
masses into the political movement, which our Economists 
preach, is so extremely harmful and reactionary in its prac- 
tical significance. In order to become a Social-Democrat, 
the worker must have a clear picture in his mind of the eco- 
nomic nature and the social and political features of the 
landlord and the priest, the high state official and the 
peasant, the student and the vagabond; he must know 
their strong and weak points; he must grasp the meaning of 
all the catchwords and sophisms by which each class and 
each stratum camouflages its selfish strivings and its real 
"inner workings"; he must understand what interests are 
reflected by certain institutions and certain laws and how 
they are reflected. But this "clear picture" cannot be ob- 
tained from any book. It can be obtained only from living 
examples and from exposures that follow close upon what is 
going on about us at a given moment; upon what is being 
discussed, in whispers perhaps, by each one in his own way; 
upon what finds expression in such and such events, in such 
and such statistics, in such and such court sentences, etc., 
etc. These comprehensive political exposures are an essen- 
tial and fundamental condition for training the masses in 
revolutionary activity. 

Why do the Russian workers still manifest little revolu- 
tionary activity in response to the brutal treatment of the 
people by the police, the persecution of religious sects, 
the flogging of peasants, the outrageous censorship, the tor- 
ture of soldiers, the persecution of the most innocent cultur- 
al undertakings, etc.? Is it because the "economic struggle" 
does not "stimulate" them to this, because such activity 
does not "promise palpable results", because it produces 
little that is "positive"? To adopt such an opinion, we repeat, 
is merely to direct the charge where it does not belong, to 
blame the working masses for one's own philistinism (or 
Bernsteinism). We must blame ourselves, our lagging behind 
the mass movement, for still being unable to organise 



sufficiently wide, striking, and rapid exposures of all the 
shameful outrages. When we do that (and we must and can 
do it), the most backward worker will understand, or 
will feel, that the students and religious sects, the peasants 
and the authors are being abused and outraged by those same 
dark forces that are oppressing and crushing him at every 
step of his life. Feeling that, he himself will be filled with 
an irresistible desire to react, and he will know how to hoot 
the censors one day, on another day to demonstrate outside 
the house of a governor who has brutally suppressed a peas- 
ant uprising, on still another day to teach a lesson to the 
gendarmes in surplices who are doing the work of the Holy 
Inquisition, etc. As yet we have done very little, almost 
nothing, to bring before the working masses prompt exposures 
on all possible issues. Many of us as yet do not recognise 
this as our bounden duty but trail spontaneously in the wake 
of the "drab everyday struggle", in the narrow confines of 
factory life. Under such circumstances to say that "Iskra 
displays a tendency to minimise the significance of the for- 
ward march of the drab everyday struggle in comparison 
with the propaganda of brilliant and complete ideas" (Mar- 
tynov, op. cit., p. 61), means to drag the Party back, to de- 
fend and glorify our unpreparedness and backwardness. 

As for calling the masses to action, that will come of itself 
as soon as energetic political agitation, live and striking 
exposures come into play. To catch some criminal red-hand- 
ed and immediately to brand him publicly in all places is 
of itself far more effective than any number of "calls"; the 
effect very often is such as will make it impossible to tell 
exactly who it was that "called" upon the masses and who 
suggested this or that plan of demonstration, etc. Calls for 
action, not in the general, but in the concrete, sense of the 
term can be made only at the place of action; only those who 
themselves go into action, and do so immediately, can sound 
such calls. Our business as Social-Democratic publicists is 
to deepen, expand, and intensify political exposures and po- 
litical agitation. 

A word in passing about "calls to action". The only news- 
paper which prior to the spring events called upon the work- 
ers to intervene actively in a matter that certainly did not 
promise any palpable results whatever for the workers, i.e., 



the drafting of the students into the army, was Iskra. Im- 
mediately after the publication of the order of January 11, 
on "drafting the 183 students into the army", Iskra pub- 
lished an article on the matter (in its February issue, No. 2),* 
and, before any demonstration was begun, forthwith called 
upon "the workers to go to the aid of the students", called 
upon the "people" openly to take up the government's 
arrogant challenge. We ask: how is the remarkable fact to 
be explained that although Martynov talks so much about 
"calls to action", and even suggests "calls to action" as a spe- 
cial form of activity, he said not a word about this call? 
After this, was it not sheer philistinism on Martynov's 
part to allege that Iskra was one-sided because it did not is- 
sue sufficient "calls" to struggle for demands "promising 
palpable results"? 

Our Economists, including Rabocheye Dyelo, were success- 
ful because they adapted themselves to the backward work- 
ers. But the Social-Democratic worker, the revolutionary 
worker (and the number of such workers is growing) will 
indignantly reject all this talk about struggle for demands 
"promising palpable results", etc., because he will under- 
stand that this is only a variation of the old song about add- 
ing a kopek to the ruble. Such a worker will say to his 
counsellors from Rabochaya Mysl and Rabocheye Dyelo: 
you are busying yourselves in vain, gentlemen, and shirk- 
ing your proper duties, by meddling with such excessive 
zeal in a job that we can very well manage ourselves. There 
is nothing clever in your assertion that the Social-Demo- 
crats' task is to lend the economic struggle itself a politi- 
cal character; that is only the beginning, it is not the main 
task of the Social-Democrats. For all over the world, includ- 
ing Russia, the police themselves often take the initiative 
in lending the economic struggle a political character, and 
the workers themselves learn to understand whom the govern- 
ment supports.** The "economic struggle of the workers 

* See present edition, Vol. 4, pp. 414-19.— Ed. 
** The demand "to lend the economic struggle itself a political char- 
acter" most strikingly expresses subservience to spontaneity in the 
sphere of political activity. Very often the economic struggle spontane- 
ously assumes a political character, that is to say, without the interven- 
tion of the "revolutionary bacilli — the intelligentsia", without the 



against the employers and the government", about which 
you make as much fuss as if you had discovered a new Amer- 
ica, is being waged in all parts of Russia, even the most 
remote, by the workers themselves who have heard about 
strikes, but who have heard almost nothing about socialism. 
The "activity" you want to stimulate among us workers, by 
advancing concrete demands that promise palpable results, 
we are already displaying and in our everyday, limited trade- 
union work we put forward these concrete demands, very 
often without any assistance whatever from the intellectuals. 
But such activity is not enough for us; we are not children to 
be fed on the thin gruel of "economic" politics alone; we want 
to know everything that others know, we want to learn the 
details of all aspects of political life and to take part active- 
ly in every single political event. In order that we may do 
this, the intellectuals must talk to us less of what we already 
know.* and tell us more about what we do not yet know 

intervention of the class-conscious Social-Democrats. The economic 
struggle of the English workers, for instance, also assumed a political 
character without any intervention on the part of the socialists. The 
task of the Social-Democrats, however, is not exhausted by political 
agitation on an economic basis; their task is to convert trade-union- 
ist politics into Social-Democratic political struggle, to utilise the 
sparks of political consciousness which the economic struggle gener- 
ates among the workers, for the purpose of raising the workers to the 
level of Social-Democratic political consciousness. The Martynovs, 
however, instead of raising and stimulating the spontaneously awaken- 
ing political consciousness of the workers, bow to spontaneity and repeat 
over and over ad nauseam, that the economic struggle "impels" the 
workers to realise their own lack of political rights. It is unfortunate, 
gentlemen, that the spontaneously awakening trade-unionist polit- 
ical consciousness does not "impel" you to an understanding of your 
Social-Democratic tasks. 

* To prove that this imaginary speech of a worker to an Econo- 
mist is based on fact, we shall refer to two witnesses who undoubt- 
edly have direct knowledge of the working-class movement and who 
are least of all inclined to be partial towards us "doctrinaires"; for one 
witness is an Economist (who regards even Rabocheye Dyelo as a po- 
litical organ!), and the other is a terrorist. The first witness is the au- 
thor of a remarkably truthful and vivid article entitled "The St. Peters- 
burg Working-Class Movement and the Practical Tasks of Social-De- 
mocracy", published in Rabocheye Dyelo No. 6. He divides the workers 
into the following categories: (1) class-conscious revolutionaries; 
(2) intermediate stratum; (3) the remaining masses. The intermediate 
stratum, he says, "is often more interested in questions of political 
life than in its own immediate economic interests, the connection 



and what we can never learn from our factory and "eco- 
nomic" experience, namely, political knowledge. You intel- 
lectuals can acquire this knowledge, and it is your duty 
to bring it to us in a hundred- and a thousand-fold greater 
measure than you have done up to now; and you must bring 
it to us, not only in the form of discussions, pamphlets, and 
articles (which very often — pardon our frankness — are rather 
dull), but precisely in the form of vivid exposures of what 
our government and our governing classes are doing at this 
very moment in all spheres of life. Devote more zeal to car- 
rying out this duty and talk less about "raising the activity 
of the working masses". We are far more active than you 
think, and we are quite able to support, by open street 
fighting, even demands that do not promise any "palpable 
results" whatever. It is not for you to "raise" our activity, 
because activity is precisely the thing you yourselves lack. 
Bow less in subservience to spontaneity, and think more 
about raising your own activity, gentlemen! 


In the last footnote we cited the opinion of an Economist 
and of a non-Social-Democratic terrorist, who showed them- 
selves to be accidentally in agreement. Speaking generally, 
however, there is not an accidental, but a necessary, inher- 
ent connection between the two, of which we shall have 
need to speak later, and which must be mentioned here in 

between which and the general social conditions it has long under- 
stood".... Rabochaya Mysl "is sharply criticised": "It keeps on repeat- 
ing the same thing over and over again, things we have long known, 
read long ago." "Again nothing in the political review!" (pp. 30-31). 
But even the third stratum, "the younger and more sensitive section 
of the workers, less corrupted by the tavern and the church, who hard- 
ly ever have the opportunity of getting hold of political literature, 
discuss political events in a rambling way and ponder over the frag- 
mentary news they get about student riots", etc. The terrorist writes 
as follows: "... They read over once or twice the petty details of fac- 
tory life in other towns, not their own, and then they read no more 
... dull, they find it.... To say nothing in a workers' paper about the 
government ... is to regard the workers as being little children.... 
The workers are not little children" (Svoboda, published by the Revo- 
lutionary-Socialist Group, pp. 69-70). 



connection with the question of education for revolutionary 
activity. The Economists and the present-day terrorists 
have one common root, namely, subservience to spontaneity, 
with which we dealt in the preceding chapter as a general 
phenomenon and which we shall now examine in relation 
to its effect upon political activity and the political struggle. 
At first sight, our assertion may appear paradoxical, so great 
is the difference between those who stress the "drab ever- 
yday struggle" and those who call for the most self-sac- 
rificing struggle of individuals. But this is no paradox. The 
Economists and the terrorists merely bow to different poles 
of spontaneity; the Economists bow to the spontaneity 
of "the labour movement pure and simple", while the ter- 
rorists bow to the spontaneity of the passionate indignation 
of intellectuals, who lack the ability or opportunity to con- 
nect the revolutionary struggle and the working-class move- 
ment into an integral whole. It is difficult indeed for those 
who have lost their belief, or who have never believed, 
that this is possible, to find some outlet for their indigna- 
tion and revolutionary energy other than terror. Thus, both 
forms of subservience to spontaneity we have mentioned are 
nothing but the beginning of the implementation of the no- 
torious Credo programme: Let the workers wage their "eco- 
nomic struggle against the employers and the government" 
(we apologise to the author of the Credo for expressing her 
views in Martynov's words. We think we have a right to 
do so since the Credo, too, says that in the economic struggle 
the workers "come up against the political regime"), and let 
the intellectuals conduct the political struggle by their own 
efforts — with the aid of terror, of course! This is an absolute- 
ly logical and inevitable conclusion which must be insist- 
ed on — even though those who are beginning to carry out 
this programme do not themselves realise that it is inevi- 
table. Political activity has its logic quite apart from the 
consciousness of those who, with the best intentions, call 
either for terror or for lending the economic struggle itself 
a political character. The road to hell is paved with good 
intentions, and, in this case, good intentions cannot save one 
from being spontaneously drawn "along the line of least 
resistance", along the line of the purely bourgeois Credo 
programme. Surely it is no accident either that many Rus- 



sian liberals — avowed liberals and liberals that wear the 
mask of Marxism — whole-heartedly sympathise with terror 
and try to foster the terrorist moods that have surged up in 
the present time. 

The formation of the Revolutionary-Socialist Svoboda 
Group — which set itself the aim of helping the working-class 
movement in every possible way, but which included in its 
programme terror, and emancipation, so to speak, from So- 
cial-Democracy — once again confirmed the remarkable 
perspicacity of P. B. Axelrod, who literally foretold these 
results of Social-Democratic waverings as far back as the 
end of 1897 (Present Tasks and Tactics), when he outlined his 
famous "two perspectives". All the subsequent disputes and 
disagreements among Russian Social-Democrats are con- 
tained, like a plant in the seed, in these two perspectives.* 

From this point of view it also becomes clear why Rabo- 
cheye Dyelo, unable to withstand the spontaneity of Econo- 
mism, has likewise been unable to withstand the spontanei- 
ty of terrorism. It is highly interesting to note here the spe- 
cific arguments that Svoboda has advanced in defence of 
terrorism. It "completely denies" the deterrent role of ter- 
rorism (The Regeneration of Revolutionism, p. 64), but in- 
stead stresses its "excitative significance". This is character- 
istic, first, as representing one of the stages of the break-up 
and decline of the traditional (pre-Social-Democratic) 
cycle of ideas which insisted upon terrorism. The admission 

* Martynov "conceives of another, more realistic [?] dilemma" 
(Social-Democracy and the Working Class, p. 19): "Either Social-De- 
mocracy takes over the direct leadership of the economic struggle of 
the proletariat and by that [!] transforms it into a revolutionary 
class struggle...." "By that", i.e., apparently by the direct leader- 
ship of the economic struggle. Can Martynov cite an instance in which 
leading the trade-union struggle alone has succeeded in transforming 
a trade-unionist movement into a revolutionary class movement? 
Can he not understand that in order to bring about this "transforma- 
tion" we must actively take up the "direct leadership" of all-sided po- 
litical agitation?... "Or the other perspective: Social-Democracy re- 
frains from assuming the leadership of the economic struggle of the work- 
ers and so ... clips its own wings..." In Rabocheye Dyelo's opinion, 
quoted above, it is Iskra that "refrains". We have seen, however, that 
the latter does far more than Rabocheye Dyelo to lead the economic 
struggle, but that, moreover, it does not confine itself thereto and 
does not narrow down its political tasks for its sake. 



that the government cannot now be "terrified", and hence 
disrupted, by terror, is tantamount to a complete condem- 
nation of terror as a system of struggle, as a sphere of activ- 
ity sanctioned by the programme. Secondly, it is still more 
characteristic as an example of the failure to understand our 
immediate tasks in regard to "education for revolutionary 
activity". Svoboda advocates terror as a means of "exciting" 
the working-class movement and of giving it a "strong im- 
petus". It is difficult to imagine an argument that more thor- 
oughly disproves itself. Are there not enough outrages com- 
mitted in Russian life without special "excitants" having 
to be invented? On the other hand, is it not obvious that 
those who are not, and cannot be, roused to excitement even 
by Russian tyranny will stand by "twiddling their thumbs" 
and watch a handful of terrorists engaged in single combat 
with the government? The fact is that the working masses 
are roused to a high pitch of excitement by the social evils 
in Russian life, but we are unable to gather, if one may so 
put it, and concentrate all these drops and streamlets of 
popular resentment that are brought forth to a far larger 
extent than we imagine by the conditions of Russian life, 
and that must be combined into a single gigantic torrent. 
That this can be accomplished is irrefutably proved by the 
enormous growth of the working-class movement and the 
eagerness, noted above, with which the workers clamour for 
political literature. On the other hand, calls for terror and 
calls to lend the economic struggle itself a political charac- 
ter are merely two different forms of evading the most pres- 
sing duty now resting upon Russian revolutionaries, namely, 
the organisation of comprehensive political agitation. Svo- 
boda desires to substitute terror for agitation, openly 
admitting that "as soon as intensified and strenuous agita- 
tion is begun among the masses the excitative function of 
terror will be ended" (The Regeneration of Revolutionism, 
p. 68). This proves precisely that both the terrorists and the 
Economists underestimate the revolutionary activity of the 
masses, despite the striking evidence of the events that took 
place in the spring,* and whereas the one group goes out in 

* The big street demonstrations which began in the spring of 1901. 
(Author's note to the 1907 edition.— Ed.) 



search of artificial "excitants", the other talks about "con- 
crete demands". But both fail to devote sufficient attention 
to the development of their own activity in political agita- 
tion and in the organisation of political exposures. And no 
other work can serve as a substitute for this task either at 
the present time or at any other. 


We have seen that the conduct of the broadest political 
agitation and, consequently, of all-sided political exposures 
is an absolutely necessary and a paramount task of our activ- 
ity, if this activity is to be truly Social-Democratic. How- 
ever, we arrived at this conclusion solely on the grounds 
of the pressing needs of the working class for political knowl- 
edge and political training. But such a presentation of the 
question is too narrow, for it ignores the general democrat- 
ic tasks of Social-Democracy, in particular of present-day 
Russian Social-Democracy. In order to explain the point 
more concretely we shall approach the subject from an as- 
pect that is "nearest" to the Economist, namely, from the 
practical aspect. "Everyone agrees" that it is necessary to 
develop the political consciousness of the working class. 
The question is, how that is to be done and what is required 
to do it. The economic struggle merely "impels" the workers 
to realise the government's attitude towards the working 
class. Consequently, however much we may try to "lend the 
economic, struggle itself a political character", we shall 
never be able to develop the political consciousness of the 
workers (to the level of Social-Democratic political conscious- 
ness) by keeping within the framework of the economic 
struggle, for that framework is too narrow. The Martynov for- 
mula has some value for us, not because it illustrates Mar- 
tynov's aptitude for confusing things, but because it 
pointedly expresses the basic error that all the Econo- 
mists commit, namely, their conviction that it is possible 
to develop the class political consciousness of the workers 
from within, so to speak, from their economic struggle, i.e., 
by making this struggle the exclusive (or, at least, the main) 
starting-point, by making it the exclusive (or, at least, 



the main) basis. Such a view is radically wrong. Piqued by 
our polemics against them, the Economists refuse to ponder 
deeply over the origins of these disagreements, with the re- 
sult that we simply cannot understand one another. It is 
as if we spoke in different tongues. 

Class political consciousness can be brought to the workers 
only from without, that is, only from outside the economic 
struggle, from outside the sphere of relations between work- 
ers and employers. The sphere from which alone it is pos- 
sible to obtain this knowledge is the sphere of relationships 
of all classes and strata to the state and the government, 
the sphere of the interrelations between all classes. For 
that reason, the reply to the question as to what must be 
done to bring political knowledge to the workers cannot be 
merely the answer with which, in the majority of cases, the 
practical workers, especially those inclined towards Econo- 
mism, mostly content themselves, namely: "To go among 
the workers." To bring political knowledge to the workers 
the Social-Democrats must go among all classes of the pop- 
ulation; they must dispatch units of their army in all 

We deliberately select this blunt formula, we deliberate- 
ly express ourselves in this sharply simplified manner, not 
because we desire to indulge in paradoxes, but in order to 
"impel" the Economists to a realisation of their tasks which 
they unpardonably ignore, to suggest to them strongly the 
difference between trade-unionist and Social-Democratic pol- 
itics, which they refuse to understand. We therefore beg 
the reader not to get wrought up, but to hear us patiently 
to the end. 

Let us take the type of Social-Democratic study circle 
that has become most widespread in the past few years and 
examine its work. It has "contacts with the workers" and 
rests content with this, issuing leaflets in which abuses in 
the factories, the government's partiality towards the capi- 
talists, and the tyranny of the police are strongly condemned. 
At workers' meetings the discussions never, or rarely ever, 
go beyond the limits of these subjects. Extremely rare are 
the lectures and discussions held on the history of the revo- 
lutionary movement, on questions of the government's 
home and foreign policy, on questions of the economic evo- 



lution of Russia and of Europe, on the position of the various 
classes in modern society, etc. As to systematically acquir- 
ing and extending contact with other classes of society, 
no one even dreams of that. In fact, the ideal leader, as 
the majority of the members of such circles picture him, is 
something far more in the nature of a trade-union secretary 
than a socialist political leader. For the secretary of any, 
say English, trade union always helps the workers to carry 
on the economic struggle, he helps them to expose factory 
abuses, explains the injustice of the laws and of measures 
that hamper the freedom to strike and to picket (i.e., to 
warn all and sundry that a strike is proceeding at a certain 
factory), explains the partiality of arbitration court judges 
who belong to the bourgeois classes, etc., etc. In a word, 
every trade-union secretary conducts and helps to conduct 
"the economic struggle against the employers and the govern- 
ment". It cannot be too strongly maintained that this is 
still not Social-Democracy, that the Social-Democrat's 
ideal should not be the trade-union secretary, but the 
tribune of the people, who is able to react to every manifesta- 
tion of tyranny and oppression, no matter where it appears, 
no matter what stratum or class of the people it affects; 
who is able to generalise all these manifestations and pro- 
duce a single picture of police violence and capitalist exploi- 
tation; who is able to take advantage of every event, how- 
ever small, in order to set forth before all his socialist con- 
victions and his democratic demands, in order to clarify 
for all and everyone the world-historic significance of the 
struggle for the emancipation of the proletariat. Compare, 
for example, a leader like Robert Knight (the well-known 
secretary and leader of the Boiler-Makers' Society, one of 
the most powerful trade unions in England), with Wilhelm 
Liebknecht, and try to apply to them the contrasts that 
Martynov draws in his controversy with Iskra. You will 
see — I am running through Martynov's article — that Rob- 
ert Knight engaged more in "calling the masses to certain 
concrete actions" (Martynov, op. cit., p. 39), while Wilhelm 
Liebknecht engaged more in "the revolutionary elucidation 
of the whole of the present system or partial manifestations 
of it" (38-39); that Robert Knight "formulated the imme- 
diate demands of the proletariat and indicated the means 



by which they can be achieved" (41), whereas Wilhelm Lieb- 
knecht, while doing this, did not hold back from "simulta- 
neously guiding the activities of various opposition strata", 
"dictating a positive programme of action for them"* (41); 
that Robert Knight strove "as far as possible to lend the 
economic struggle itself a political character" (42) and 
was excellently able "to submit to the government 
concrete demands promising certain palpable results" (43), 
whereas Liebknecht engaged to a much greater degree 
in "one-sided" "exposures" (40); that Robert Knight attached 
more significance to the "forward march of the drab everyday 
struggle" (61), whereas Liebknecht attached more signifi- 
cance to the "propaganda of brilliant and completed ideas" 
(61); that Liebknecht converted the paper he was directing 
into "an organ of revolutionary opposition that exposed the 
state of affairs in our country, particularly the political state 
of affairs, insofar as it affected the interests of the most 
varied strata of the population" (63), whereas Robert Knight 
"worked for the cause of the working class in close organic 
connection with the proletarian struggle" (63) — if by "close 
and organic connection" is meant the subservience to spon- 
taneity which we examined above, by taking the examples 
of Krichevsky and Martynov — and "restricted the sphere of 
his influence", convinced, of course, as is Martynov, that 
"by doing so he deepened that influence" (63). In a word, 
you will see that de facto Martynov reduces Social-Democracy 
to the level of trade-unionism, though he does so, of course, 
not because he does not desire the good of Social-Democra- 
cy, but simply because he is a little too much in a hurry to 
render Plekhanov more profound, instead of taking the 
trouble to understand him. 

Let us return, however, to our theses. We said that a 
Social-Democrat, if he really believes it necessary to devel- 
op comprehensively the political consciousness of the 
proletariat, must "go among all classes of the population". 
This gives rise to the questions: how is this to be done? 
have we enough forces to do this? is there a basis for such 
work among all the other classes? will this not mean a re- 

* For example, during the Franco-Prussian War, Liebknecht 
dictated a programme of action for the whole of democracy; to an even 
greater extent Marx and Engels did this in 1848. 



treat, or lead to a retreat, from the class point of view? 
Let us deal with these questions. 

We must "go among all classes of the population" as theo- 
reticians, as propagandists, as agitators, and as organisers. 
No one doubts that the theoretical work of Social-Democrats 
should aim at studying all the specific features of the social 
and political condition of the various classes. But extremely 
little is done in this direction as compared with the work 
that is done in studying the specific features of factory life. 
In the committees and study circles, one can meet people 
who are immersed in the study even of some special branch 
of the metal industry; but one can hardly ever find members 
of organisations (obliged, as often happens, for some reason 
or other to give up practical work) who are especially engaged 
in gathering material on some pressing question of social 
and political life in our country which could serve as a means 
for conducting Social-Democratic work among other strata 
of the population. In dwelling upon the fact that the major- 
ity of the present-day leaders of the working-class movement 
lack training, we cannot refrain from mentioning training 
in this respect also, for it too is bound up with the "Econo- 
mist" conception of "close organic connection with the pro- 
letarian struggle". The principal thing, of course, is prop- 
aganda and agitation among all strata of the people. The 
work of the West European Social-Democrat is in this re- 
spect facilitated by the public meetings and rallies which 
all are free to attend, and by the fact that in parliament he 
addresses the representatives of all classes. We have neither 
a parliament nor freedom of assembly; nevertheless, we are 
able to arrange meetings of workers who desire to listen to 
a Social-Democrat. We must also find ways and means of 
calling meetings of representatives of all social classes 
that desire to listen to a democrat; for he is no Social-Demo- 
crat who forgets in practice that "the Communists support 
every revolutionary movement", that we are obliged for 
that reason to expound and emphasise general democratic 
tasks before the whole people, without for a moment conceal- 
ing our socialist convictions. He is no Social-Democrat who 
forgets in practice his obligation to be ahead of all in rais- 
ing, accentuating, and solving every general democratic 



"But everyone agrees with this!" the impatient reader 
will exclaim, and the new instructions adopted by the last 
conference of the Union Abroad for the Editorial Board of 
Rabocheye Dyelo definitely say: "All events of social and po- 
litical life that affect the proletariat either directly as a spe- 
cial class or as the vanguard of all the revolutionary forces 
in the struggle for freedom should serve as subjects for 
political propaganda and agitation" (Two Conferences, p. 17, 
our italics). Yes, these are very true and very good words, 
and we would be fully satisfied if Rabocheye Dyelo under- 
stood them and if it refrained from saying in the next breath 
things that contradict them. For it is not enough to call our- 
selves the "vanguard", the advanced contingent; we must 
act in such a way that all the other contingents recognise 
and are obliged to admit that we are marching in the 
vanguard. And we ask the reader: Are the representa- 
tives of the other "contingents" such fools as to take our 
word for it when we say that we are the "vanguard"? Just 
picture to yourselves the following: a Social-Democrat 
comes to the "contingent" of Russian educated radicals, or 
liberal constitutionalists, and says, We are the vanguard; 
"the task confronting us now is, as far as possible, to lend 
the economic struggle itself a political character". The radi- 
cal, or constitutionalist, if he is at all intelligent (and there 
are many intelligent men among Russian radicals and con- 
stitutionalists), would only smile at such a speech and would 
say (to himself, of course, for in the majority of cases he is 
an experienced diplomat): "Your 'vanguard' must be made 
up of simpletons. They do not even understand that it is 
our task, the task of the progressive representatives of 
bourgeois democracy to lend the workers' economic struggle 
itself a political character. Why, we too, like the West- 
European bourgeois, want to draw the workers into politics, 
but only into trade-unionist, not into Social-Democratic 
politics. Trade-unionist politics of the working class is pre- 
cisely bourgeois politics of the working class, and this 'van- 
guard's' formulation of its task is the formulation of trade- 
unionist politics! Let them call themselves Social-Democrats 
to their heart's content, I am not a child to get excited over 
a label. But they must not fall under the influence of those 
pernicious orthodox doctrinaires, let them allow 'freedom of 



criticism' to those who unconsciously are driving Social- 
Democracy into trade-unionist channels." 

And the faint smile of our constitutionalist will turn 
into Homeric laughter when he learns that the Social-Demo- 
crats who talk of Social-Democracy as the vanguard, today, 
when spontaneity almost completely dominates our move- 
ment, fear nothing so much as "belittling the spontaneous 
element", as "underestimating the significance of the forward 
movement of the drab everyday struggle, as compared with 
the propaganda of brilliant and completed ideas", etc., etc.! 
A "vanguard" which fears that consciousness will outstrip 
spontaneity, which fears to put forward a bold "plan" that 
would compel general recognition even among those who 
differ with us. Are they not confusing "vanguard" with 

Indeed, let us examine the following piece of reasoning 
by Martynov. On page 40 he says that Iskra is one-sided in 
its tactics of exposing abuses, that "however much we may 
spread distrust and hatred of the government, we shall not 
achieve our aim until we have succeeded in developing suf- 
ficient active social energy for its overthrow". This, it may 
be said parenthetically, is the familiar solicitude for the 
activation of the masses, with a simultaneous striving to 
restrict one's own activity. But that is not the main point 
at the moment. Martynov speaks here, accordingly, of revo- 
lutionary energy ("for overthrowing"). And what conclusion 
does he arrive at? Since in ordinary times various social 
strata inevitably march separately, "it is, therefore, clear 
that we Social-Democrats cannot simultaneously guide the 
activities of various opposition strata, we cannot dictate 
to them a positive programme of action, we cannot point 
out to them in what manner they should wage a day-to-day 
struggle for their interests.... The liberal strata will them- 
selves take care of the active struggle for their immediate 
interests, the struggle that will bring them face to face with 
our political regime" (p. 41). Thus, having begun with talk 
about revolutionary energy, about the active struggle for 
the overthrow of the autocracy, Martynov immediately 
turns toward trade-union energy and active struggle for 
immediate interests! It goes without saying that we can- 
not guide the struggle of the students, liberals, etc., for their 



"immediate interests"; but this was not the point at issue, 
most worthy Economist! The point we were discussing was 
the possible and necessary participation of various social 
strata in the overthrow of the autocracy; and not only are we 
able, but it is our bounden duty, to guide these "activities 
of the various opposition strata", if we desire to be the "van- 
guard". Not only will our students and liberals, etc., them- 
selves take care of "the struggle that brings them face 
to face with our political regime"; the police and the officials 
of the autocratic government will see to this first and fore- 
most. But if "we" desire to be front-rank democrats, we must 
make it our concern to direct the thoughts of those who are 
dissatisfied only with conditions at the university, or in the 
Zemstvo, etc., to the idea that the entire political system 
is worthless. We must take upon ourselves the task of organ- 
ising an all-round political struggle under the leadership 
of our Party in such a manner as to make it possible for all 
oppositional strata to render their fullest support to the 
struggle and to our Party. We must train our Social-Democrat- 
ic practical workers to become political leaders, able to 
guide all the manifestations of this all-round struggle, able 
at the right time to "dictate a positive programme of action" 
for the aroused students, the discontented Zemstvo people, 
the incensed religious sects, the offended elementary school- 
teachers, etc., etc. For that reason, Martynov's assertion that 
"with regard to these, we can function merely in the negative 
role of exposers of abuses ... we can only dissipate their hopes 
in various government commissions" is completely false 
(our italics). By saying this, Martynov shows that he abso- 
lutely fails to understand the role that the revolutionary 
"vanguard" must really play. If the reader bears this in mind, 
he will be clear as to the real meaning of Martynov's conclud- 
ing remarks: "Iskra is the organ of the revolutionary oppo- 
sition which exposes the state of affairs in our country, par- 
ticularly the political state of affairs, insofar as it affects 
the interests of the most varied strata of the population. We, 
however, work and will continue to work for the cause of the 
working class in close organic contact with the proletarian 
struggle. By restricting the sphere of our active influence 
we deepen that influence" (63). The true sense of this 
conclusion is as follows: Iskra desires to elevate the 



trade-unionist politics of the working class (to which, 
through misconception, through lack of training, or through 
conviction, our practical workers frequently confine them- 
selves) to the level of Social-Democratic politics. Rabo- 
cheye Dyelo, however, desires to degrade Social-Democratic 
politics to trade-unionist politics. Moreover, it assures the 
world that the two positions are "entirely compatible within 
the common cause" (63). 0, sancta simplicitas! 

To proceed. Have we sufficient forces to direct our prop- 
aganda and agitation among all social classes? Most cer- 
tainly. Our Economists, who are frequently inclined to deny 
this, lose sight of the gigantic progress our movement has 
made from (approximately) 1894 to 1901. Like real "tail- 
enders" they often go on living in the bygone stages of the 
movement's inception. In the earlier period, indeed, we had 
astonishingly few forces, and it was perfectly natural and 
legitimate then to devote ourselves exclusively to activi- 
ties among the workers and to condemn severely any devia- 
tion from this course. The entire task then was to consoli- 
date our position in the working class. At the present time, 
however, gigantic forces have been attracted to the movement. 
The best representatives of the younger generation of the 
educated classes are coming over to us. Everywhere in the 
provinces there are people, resident there by dint of circum- 
stance, who have taken part in the movement in the past 
or who desire to do so now and who, are gravitating towards 
Social-Democracy (whereas in 1894 one could count the So- 
cial-Democrats on the fingers of one's hand). A basic politi- 
cal and organisational shortcoming of our movement is 
our inability to utilise all these forces and give them appro- 
priate work (we shall deal with this more fully in the next 
chapter). The overwhelming majority of these forces entire- 
ly lack the opportunity of "going among the workers", 
so that there are no grounds for fearing that we shall divert 
forces from our main work. In order to be able to provide 
the workers with real, comprehensive, and live political 
knowledge, we must have "our own people", Social-Demo- 
crats, everywhere, among all social strata, and in all positions 
from which we can learn the inner springs of our state 
mechanism. Such people are required, not only for propaganda 
and agitation, but in a still larger measure for organisation. 



Is there a basis for activity among all classes of the popu- 
lation? Whoever doubts this lags in his consciousness behind 
the spontaneous awakening of the masses. The working-class 
movement has aroused and is continuing to arouse discon- 
tent in some, hopes of support for the opposition in others, 
and in still others the realisation that the autocracy is un- 
bearable and must inevitably fall. We would be "politicians" 
and Social-Democrats in name only (as all too often happens 
in reality), if we failed to realise that our task is to utilise 
every manifestation of discontent, and to gather and turn to 
the best account every protest, however small. This is quite 
apart from the fact that the millions of the labouring peas- 
antry, handicraftsmen, petty artisans, etc., would always listen 
eagerly to the speech of any Social-Democrat who is at 
all qualified. Indeed, is there a single social class in which 
there are no individuals, groups, or circles that are discon- 
tented with the lack of rights and with tyranny and, there- 
fore, accessible to the propaganda of Social-Democrats as the 
spokesmen of the most pressing general democratic needs? 
To those who desire to have a clear idea of what the 
political agitation of a Social-Democrat among all classes 
and strata of the population should be like, we would 
point to political exposures in the broad sense of the word 
as the principal (but, of course, not the sole) form of this 

"We must arouse in every section of the population that is at all 
politically conscious a passion for political exposure," I wrote in my 
article "Where To Begin" [Iskra, May (No. 4), 1901], with which I 
shall deal in greater detail later. "We must not be discouraged by the 
fact that the voice of political exposure is today so feeble, timid, and 
infrequent. This is not because of a wholesale submission to police 
despotism, but because those who are able and ready to make expo- 
sures have no tribune from which to speak, no eager and encouraging 
audience, they do not see anywhere among the people that force to 
which it would be worth while directing their complaint against the 
'omnipotent' Russian Government.... We are now in a position to 
provide a tribune for the nation-wide exposure of the tsarist govern- 
ment, and it is our duty to do this. That tribune must be a Social- 
Democratic newspaper."* 

The ideal audience for political exposure is the working 
class, which is first and foremost in need of all-round and 

* See present volume, pp. 21-22.— Ed. 



live political knowledge, and is most capable of converting 
this knowledge into active struggle, even when that strug- 
gle does not promise "palpable results". A tribune for na- 
tion-wide exposures can be only an All-Russian newspaper. 
"Without a political organ, a political movement deserving 
that name is inconceivable in the Europe of today"; in this 
respect Russia must undoubtedly be included in present- 
day Europe. The press long ago became a power in our coun- 
try, otherwise the government would not spend tens of thou- 
sands of rubles to bribe it and to subsidise the Katkovs and 
Meshcherskys. And it is no novelty in autocratic Russia 
for the underground press to break through the wall of cen- 
sorship and compel the legal and conservative press to speak 
openly of it. This was the case in the seventies and even in 
the fifties. How much broader and deeper are now the sec- 
tions of the people willing to read the illegal underground 
press, and to learn from it "how to live and how to die", 
to use the expression of a worker who sent a letter to Iskra 
(No. 7). 172 Political exposures are as much a declaration of 
war against the government as economic exposures are a 
declaration of war against the factory owners. The moral sig- 
nificance of this declaration of war will be all the greater, 
the wider and more powerful the campaign of exposure will 
be and the more numerous and determined the social class 
that has declared war in order to begin the war. Hence, 
political exposures in themselves serve as a powerful instru- 
ment for disintegrating the system we oppose, as a means 
for diverting from the enemy his casual or temporary allies, 
as a means for spreading hostility and distrust among the 
permanent partners of the autocracy. 

In our time only a party that will organise really nation- 
wide exposures can become the vanguard of the revolutionary 
forces. The word "nation-wide" has a very profound meaning. 
The overwhelming majority of the non-working-class expos- 
ers (be it remembered that in order to become the vanguard, 
we must attract other classes) are sober politicians and lev- 
el-headed men of affairs. They know perfectly well how dan- 
gerous it is to "complain" even against a minor official, let 
alone against the "omnipotent" Russian Government. And 
they will come to us with their complaints only when they 
see that these complaints can really have effect, and that 



we represent a political force. In order to become such a force 
in the eyes of outsiders, much persistent and stubborn 
work is required to raise our own consciousness, initiative, 
and energy. To accomplish this it is not enough to attach 
a "vanguard" label to rearguard theory and practice. 

But if we have to undertake the organisation of a really 
nation-wide exposure of the government, in what way will 
then the class character of our movement be expressed? — the 
overzealous advocate of "close organic contact with the 
proletarian struggle" will ask us, as indeed he does. The reply 
is manifold: we Social-Democrats will organise these nation- 
wide exposures; all questions raised by the agitation will 
he explained in a consistently Social-Democratic spirit, 
without any concessions to deliberate or undeliberate dis- 
tortions of Marxism; the all-round political agitation will 
be conducted by a party which unites into one inseparable 
whole the assault on the government in the name of the en- 
tire people, the revolutionary training of the proletariat, 
and the safeguarding of its political independence, the guid- 
ance of the economic struggle of the working class, and the 
utilisation of all its spontaneous conflicts with its exploiters 
which rouse and bring into our camp increasing numbers of 
the proletariat. 

But a most characteristic feature of Economism is its 
failure to understand this connection, more, this identity 
of the most pressing need of the proletariat (a comprehen- 
sive political education through the medium of political 
agitation and political exposures) with the need of the gen- 
eral democratic movement. This lack of understanding is 
expressed, not only in "Martynovite" phrases, but in the 
references to a supposedly class point of view identical in 
meaning with these phrases. Thus, the authors of the "Econ- 
omist" letter in Iskra, No. 12, state*: "This basic drawback 

* Lack of space has prevented us from replying in detail, in Is- 
kra, to this letter, which is highly characteristic of the Economists. 
We were very glad at its appearance, for the allegations that Iskra 
did not maintain a consistent class point of view had reached us long 
before that from various sources, and we were waiting for an appro- 
priate occasion, or for a formulated expression of this fashionable 
charge, to give our reply. Moreover, it is our habit to reply to attacks, 
not by defence, but by counter-attack. 



of Iskra [overestimation of ideology] is also the cause of its 
inconsistency on the question of the attitude of Social-De- 
mocracy to the various social classes and tendencies. By 
theoretical reasoning [not by "the growth of Party tasks, 
which grow together with the Party"], Iskra solved the prob- 
lem of the immediate transition to the struggle against 
absolutism. In all probability it senses the difficulty of 
such a task for the workers under the present state of affairs 
[not only senses, but knows full well that this task appears 
less difficult to the workers than to the "Economist" intel- 
lectuals with their nursemaid concern, for the workers are 
prepared to fight even for demands which, to use the language 
of the never-to-be-forgotten Martynov, do not "promise 
palpable results"] but lacking the patience to wait until 
the workers will have gathered sufficient forces for this 
struggle, Iskra begins to seek allies in the ranks of the lib- 
erals and intellectuals".... 

Yes, we have indeed lost all "patience" "waiting" for the 
blessed time, long promised us by diverse "conciliators", when 
the Economists will have stopped charging the workers 
with their own backwardness and justifying their own lack 
of energy with allegations that the workers lack strength. 
We ask our Economists: What do they mean by "the gather- 
ing of working-class strength for the struggle"? Is it not evi- 
dent that this means the political training of the workers, so 
that all the aspects of our vile autocracy are revealed to 
them? And is it not clear that precisely for this work we 
need "allies in the ranks of the liberals and intellectuals", 
who are prepared to join us in the exposure of the political 
attack on the Zemstvos, on the teachers, on the statisti- 
cians, on the students, etc.? Is this surprisingly "intricate 
mechanism" really so difficult to understand? Has not 
P. B. Axelrod constantly repeated since 1897 that "the task 
before the Russian Social-Democrats of acquiring adherents 
and direct and indirect allies among the non-proletarian 
classes will be solved principally and primarily by the char- 
acter of the propagandist activities conducted among the 
proletariat itself"? But the Martynovs and the other Econo- 
mists continue to imagine that "by economic struggle 
against the employers and the government" the workers must 
first gather strength (for trade-unionist politics) and then 



"go over" — we presume from trade-unionist "training for 
activity" — to Social-Democratic activity! 

"...In this quest," continue the Economists, "Iskra not 
infrequently departs from the class point of view, obscures 
class antagonisms, and puts into the forefront the common 
nature of the discontent with the government, although 
the causes and the degree of the discontent vary considera- 
bly among the 'allies'. Such, for example, is Iskras attitude 
towards the Zemstvo...." Iskra, it is alleged, "promises the 
nobles that are dissatisfied with the government's sops 
the assistance of the working class, but it does not say a 
word about the class antagonism that exists between these 
social strata." If the reader will turn to the article "The 
Autocracy and the Zemstvo" (Iskra, Nos. 2 and 4), to which, 
in all probability , the authors of the letter refer, he will find 
that they* deal with the attitude of the government towards 
the "mild agitation of the bureaucratic Zemstvo, which is 
based on the social-estates", and towards the "independent 
activity of even the propertied classes". The article states 
that the workers cannot look on indifferently while the gov- 
ernment is waging a struggle against the Zemstvo, and the 
Zemstvos are called upon to stop making mild speeches and 
to speak firmly and resolutely when revolutionary Social- 
Democracy confronts the government in all its strength. 
What the authors of the letter do not agree with here is not 
clear. Do they think that the workers will "not understand" 
the phrases "propertied classes" and "bureaucratic Zemstvo 
based on the social-estates"? Do they think that urging the 
Zemstvo to abandon mild speeches and to speak firmly is 
"overestimating ideology"? Do they imagine the workers 
can "gather strength" for the struggle against the autocracy 
if they know nothing about the attitude of the autocracy to- 
wards the Zemstvo as well? All this too remains unknown. 
One thing alone is clear and that is that the authors of 
the letter have a very vague idea of what the political 
tasks of Social-Democracy are. This is revealed still more 
clearly by their remark: "Such, too, is Iskra's attitude towards 
the student movement" (i.e., it also "obscures the class antag- 

* In the interval between these articles there was one (Iskra, No. 3), 
which dealt especially with class antagonisms in the countryside. 
(See present edition, Vol. 4, pp. 420-28.— Ed.) 



onisms"). Instead of calling on the workers to declare by 
means of public demonstrations that the real breeding-place 
of unbridled violence, disorder, and outrage is not the uni- 
versity youth but the Russian Government (Iskra, No. 2*), 
we ought probably to have inserted arguments in the spirit 
of Rabochaya Mysl\ Such ideas were expressed by Social- 
Democrats in the autumn of 1901, after the events of Febru- 
ary and March, on the eve of a fresh upsurge of the student 
movement, which reveals that even in this sphere the "spon- 
taneous" protest against the autocracy is outstripping the 
conscious Social-Democratic leadership of the movement. 
The spontaneous striving of the workers to defend the stu- 
dents who are being assaulted by the police and the Cossacks 
surpasses the conscious activity of the Social-Democratic 

"And yet in other articles," continue the authors of the 
letter, "Iskra sharply condemns all compromise and defends, 
for instance, the intolerant conduct of the Guesdists." We 
would advise those who are wont so conceitedly and frivo- 
lously to declare that the present disagreements among the 
Social-Democrats are unessential and do not justify a split, 
to ponder these words. Is it possible for people to work to- 
gether in the same organisation, when some among them 
contend that we have done extremely little to explain the 
hostility of the autocracy to the various classes and to inform 
the workers of the opposition displayed by the various so- 
cial strata to the autocracy, while others among them see 
in this clarification a "compromise" — evidently a compro- 
mise with the theory of "economic struggle against the 
employers and the government"? 

We urged the necessity of carrying the class struggle into 
the rural districts in connection with the fortieth anniver- 
sary of the emancipation of the peasantry (issue No. 3** and 
spoke of the irreconcilability of the local government 
bodies and the autocracy in relation to Witte's secret Mem- 
orandum (No. 4). In connection with the new law we at- 
tacked the feudal landlords and the government which 
serves them (No. 8***) and we welcomed the illegal Zemstvo 

* See present edition, Vol. 4, pp. 414-19.— Ed. 
**See present edition, Vol. 4, pp. 420-28.— Ed. 
***See present volume, pp. 95-100.— Ed. 



congress. We urged the Zemstvo to pass over from abject 
petitions (No. 8*) to struggle. We encouraged the stu- 
dents, who had begun to understand the need for the politi- 
cal struggle, and to undertake this struggle (No. 3), while, 
at the same time, we lashed out at the "outrageous incompre- 
hension" revealed by the adherents of the "purely student" 
movement, who called upon the students to abstain from 
participating in the street demonstrations (No. 3, in con- 
nection with the manifesto issued by the Executive Commit- 
tee of the Moscow students on February 25). We exposed 
the "senseless dreams" and the "lying hypocrisy" of the cun- 
ning liberals of Rossiya 173 (No. 5), while pointing to the 
violent fury with which the government-gaoler persecuted 
"peaceful writers, aged professors, scientists, and well-known 
liberal Zemstvo members" (No. 5, "Police Raid on Litera- 
ture"). We exposed the real significance of the programme 
of "state protection for the welfare of the workers" and 
welcomed the "valuable admission" that "it is better, by 
granting reforms from above, to forestall the demand for 
such reforms from below than to wait for those demands to 
be put forward" (No. 6**). We encouraged the protesting sta- 
tisticians (No. 7) and censured the strike-breaking statis- 
ticians (No. 9). He who sees in these tactics an obscuring 
of the class-consciousness of the proletariat and a compro- 
mise with liberalism reveals his utter failure to understand 
the true significance of the programme of the Credo and 
carries out that programme de facto, however much he 
may repudiate it. For by such an approach he drags So- 
cial-Democracy towards the "economic struggle against the 
employers and the government" and yields to liberalism, 
abandons the task of actively intervening in every "liberal" 
issue and of determining his own, Social-Democratic, atti- 
tude towards this question. 


These polite expressions, as the reader will recall, be- 
long to Rabocheye Dyelo, which in this way answers our 
charge that it "is indirectly preparing the ground for convert- 

* See present volume, pp. 101-02.— Ed. 
** See present volume, pp. 87-88.— Ed. 



ing the working-class movement into an instrument of bour- 
geois democracy". In its simplicity of heart Rabocheye Dyelo 
decided that this accusation was nothing more than a polem- 
ical sally: these malicious doctrinaires are bent on saying 
all sorts of unpleasant things about us, and, what can be more 
unpleasant than being an instrument of bourgeois democracy? 
And so they print in bold type a "refutation": "Nothing but 
downright slander", "mystification", "mummery" (Two Con- 
ferences, pp. 30, 31, 33). Like Jove, Rabocheye Dyelo (although 
bearing little resemblance to that deity) is wrathful because 
it is wrong, and proves by its hasty abuse that it is incapable 
of understanding its opponents' mode of reasoning. And 
yet, with only a little reflection it would have understood 
why any subservience to the spontaneity of the mass move- 
ment and any degrading of Social-Democratic politics to the 
level of trade-unionist politics mean preparing the ground 
for converting the working-class movement into an instru- 
ment of bourgeois democracy. The spontaneous working-class 
movement is by itself able to create (and inevitably does 
create) only trade-unionism, and working-class trade-union- 
ist politics is precisely working-class bourgeois politics. 
The fact that the working class participates in the political 
struggle, and even in the political revolution, does not in 
itself make its politics Social-Democratic politics. Will 
Rabocheye Dyelo make bold to deny this? Will it, at long last, 
publicly, plainly, and without equivocation explain how 
it understands the urgent questions of international and of 
Russian Social-Democracy? Hardly. It will never do 
anything of the kind, because it holds fast to the 
trick, which might be described as the "not here" method — 
"It's not me, it's not my horse, I'm not the driver. We are 
not Economists; Rabochaya Mysl does not stand for Econo- 
mism; there is no Economism at all in Russia." This is a 
remarkably adroit and "political" trick, which suffers from 
the slight defect, however, that the publications practising 
it are usually nicknamed, "At your service, sir". 

Rabocheye Dyelo imagines that bourgeois democracy in 
Russia is, in general, merely a "phantom" (Two Conferences, 
p. 32).* Happy people! Ostrich-like, they bury their heads 

* There follows a reference to the "concrete Russian conditions 
which fatalistically impel the working-class movement on to the revo- 



in the sand and imagine that everything around has disap- 
peared. Liberal publicists who month after month proclaim 
to the world their triumph over the collapse and even the 
disappearance of Marxism; liberal newspapers (S. Peterburg- 
skiye Vedomosti, 114 Russkiye Vedomosti, and many others) 
which encourage the liberals who bring to the workers the 
Brentano 175 conception of the class struggle and the trade- 
unionist conception of politics; the galaxy of critics of Marx- 
ism, whose real tendencies were so very well disclosed by the 
Credo and whose literary products alone circulate in Rus- 
sia without let or hindrance; the revival of revolutionary 
reore-Social-Democratic tendencies, particularly after the 
February and March events — all these, apparently, are just 
phantoms! All these have nothing at all to do with bourgeois 

Rabocheye Dyelo and the authors of the Economist letter 
published in Iskra, No. 12, should "ponder over the reason 
why the events of the spring brought about such a revival 
of revolutionary non-Social-Democratic tendencies instead 
of increasing the authority and the prestige of Social-Democ- 

The reason lies in the fact that we failed to cope with our 
tasks. The masses of the workers proved to be more active 
than we. We lacked adequately trained revolutionary 
leaders and organisers possessed of a thorough knowledge 
of the mood prevailing among all the opposition strata and 
able to head the movement, to turn a spontaneous demon- 
stration into a political one, broaden its political char- 
acter, etc. Under such circumstances, our backwardness 
will inevitably be utilised by the more mobile and more 
energetic non-Social-Democratic revolutionaries, and the 
workers, however energetically and self-sacrificingly they 
may fight the police and the troops, however revolutionary 
their actions may be, will prove to be merely a force support- 

lutionary path". But these people refuse to understand that the revo- 
lutionary path of the working-class movement might not be a Social- 
Democratic path. When absolutism reigned, the entire West-Euro- 
pean bourgeoisie "impelled", deliberately impelled, the workers 
on to the path of revolution. We Social-Democrats, however, cannot 
be satisfied with that. And if we, by any means whatever, degrade 
Social-Democratic politics to the level of spontaneous trade-unionist 
politics, we thereby play into the hands of bourgeois democracy. 



ing those revolutionaries, the rearguard of bourgeois de- 
mocracy, and not the Social-Democratic vanguard. Let us 
take, for example, the German Social-Democrats, whose 
weak aspects alone our Economists desire to emulate. Why 
is there not a single political event in Germany that does 
not add to the authority and prestige of Social-Democracy? 
Because Social-Democracy is always found to be in advance 
of all others in furnishing the most revolutionary appraisal 
of every given event and in championing every protest 
against tyranny. It does not lull itself with arguments that 
the economic struggle brings the workers to realise that they 
have no political rights and that the concrete conditions 
unavoidably impel the working-class movement on to the 
path of revolution. It intervenes in every sphere and in 
every question of social and political life; in the matter of 
Wilhelm's refusal to endorse a bourgeois progressist as city 
mayor (our Economists have not yet managed to educate 
the Germans to the understanding that such an act is, in 
fact, a compromise with liberalism!); in the matter of the 
law against "obscene" publications and pictures; in the 
matter of governmental influence on the election of pro- 
fessors, etc., etc. Everywhere the Social-Democrats are found 
in the forefront, rousing political discontent among all 
classes, rousing the sluggards, stimulating the laggards, and 
providing a wealth of material for the development of the 
political consciousness and the political activity of the pro- 
letariat. As a result, even the avowed enemies of socialism 
are filled with respect for this advanced political fighter, 
and not infrequently an important document from bour- 
geois, and even from bureaucratic and Court circles, makes 
its way by some miraculous means into the editorial office 
of Vorwdrts. 

This, then, is the resolution of the seeming "contradiction" 
that surpasses Rabocheye Dyelo's powers of understanding 
to such an extent that it can only throw up its hands and cry, 
"Mummery!" Indeed, just think of it: We, Rabocheye Dyelo, 
regard the mass working-class movement as the corner-stone 
(and say so in bold type!); we warn all and sundry against 
belittling the significance of the element of spontaneity; 
we desire to lend the economic struggle itself — itself— a polit- 
ical character; we desire to maintain close and organic contact 



with the proletarian struggle. And yet we are told that 
we are preparing the ground for the conversion of the work- 
ing-class movement into an instrument of bourgeois demo- 
cracy! And who are they that presume to say this? People 
who "compromise" with liberalism by intervening in every 
"liberal" issue (what a gross misunderstanding of "organic 
contact with the proletarian struggle"!), by devoting so 
much attention to the students and even (oh horror!) to the 
Zemstvos! People who in general wish to devote a greater 
percentage (compared with the Economists) of their efforts 
to activity among non-proletarian classes of the population! 
What is this but "mummery"? 

Poor Rabocheye Dyelol Will it ever find the solution to 
this perplexing puzzle? 



Rabocheye Dyelo's assertions, which we have analysed, 
that the economic struggle is the most widely applicable 
means of political agitation and that our task now is to 
lend the economic struggle itself a political character, etc., 
express a narrow view, not only of our political, but also 
of our organisational tasks. The "economic struggle against 
the employers and the government" does not at all require 
an All-Russian centralised organisation, and hence this 
struggle can never give rise to such an organisation as 
will combine, in one general assault, all the manifestations 
of political opposition, protest, and indignation, an organ- 
isation that will consist of professional revolutionaries 
and be led by the real political leaders of the entire people. 
This stands to reason. The character of any organisation is 
naturally and inevitably determined by the content of its 
activity. Consequently, Rabocheye Dyelo, by the assertions 
analysed above, sanctifies and legitimises not only narrowness 
of political activity, but also of organisational work. In this 
case, Rabocheye Dyelo, as always, proves itself an or- 
gan whose consciousness yields to spontaneity. Yet subser- 
vience to spontaneously developing forms of organisation, 



failure to realise the narrowness and primitiveness of our 
organisational work, of our "handicraft" methods in this 
most important sphere, failure to realise this, I say, is a 
veritable ailment from which our movement suffers. It 
is not an ailment that comes with decline, but one, of course, 
that comes with growth. It is however at the present time, 
when the wave of spontaneous indignation, as it were, is 
sweeping over us, leaders and organisers of the movement, 
that an irreconcilable struggle must be waged against all 
defence of backwardness, against any legitimation of nar- 
rowness in this matter. It is particularly necessary to arouse 
in all who participate in practical work, or are preparing 
to take up that work, discontent with the amateurism 
prevailing among us and an unshakable determination to 
rid ourselves of it. 


We shall try to answer this question by giving a brief 
description of the activity of a typical Social-Democratic 
study circle of the period 1894-1901. We have noted that 
the entire student youth of the period was absorbed in Marx- 
ism. Of course, these students were not only, or even not so 
much, interested in Marxism as a theory; they were inter- 
ested in it as an answer to the question, "What is to be done?", 
as a call to take the field against the enemy. These new 
warriors marched to battle with astonishingly primitive equip- 
ment and training. In a vast number of cases they had 
almost no equipment and absolutely no training. They 
marched to war like peasants from the plough, armed only 
with clubs. A students' circle establishes contacts with workers 
and sets to work, without any connection with the old mem- 
bers of the movement, without any connection with study 
circles in other districts, or even in other parts of the same 
city (or in other educational institutions), without any 
organisation of the various divisions of revolutionary work, 
without any systematic plan of activity covering any length 
of time. The circle gradually expands its propaganda and 
agitation; by its activities it wins the sympathies of fairly 
large sections of workers and of a certain section of the edu- 
cated strata, which provide it with money and from among 



whom the "committee" recruits new groups of young people. 
The attractive power of the committee (or League of Struggle) 
grows, its sphere of activity becomes wider, and the committee 
expands this activity quite spontaneously; the very people 
who a year or a few months previously spoke at the students' 
circle gatherings and discussed the question, "Whither?", who 
established and maintained contacts with the workers and 
wrote and published leaflets, now, establish contacts with 
other groups of revolutionaries, procure literature, set to 
work to publish a local newspaper, begin to talk of organis- 
ing a demonstration, and finally turn to open warfare (which 
may, according to circumstances, take the form of issuing 
the first agitational leaflet or the first issue of a newspaper, 
or of organising the first demonstration). Usually the initia- 
tion of such actions ends in an immediate and complete 
fiasco. Immediate and complete, because this open warfare 
was not the result of a systematic and carefully thought- 
out and gradually prepared plan for a prolonged and stubborn 
struggle, but simply the result of the spontaneous growth 
of traditional study circle work; because, naturally, the 
police, in almost every case, knew the principal leaders of 
the local movement, since they had already "gained a rep- 
utation" for themselves in their student days, and the po- 
lice waited only for the right moment to make their raid. 
They deliberately allowed the study circle sufficient time to 
develop its work so that they might, obtain a palpable 
corpus delicti, and they always permitted several of the per- 
sons known to them to remain at liberty "for breeding" 
(which, as far as I know, is the technical term used both by our 
people and by the gendarmes). One cannot help comparing 
this kind of warfare with that conducted by a mass of peas- 
ants, armed with clubs, against modern troops. And one can 
only wonder at the vitality of the movement which expand- 
ed, grew, and scored victories despite the total lack of 
training on the part of the fighters. True, from the historical 
point of view, the primitiveness of equipment was not only 
inevitable at first, but even legitimate as one of the condi- 
tions for the wide recruiting of fighters, but as soon as se- 
rious war operations began (and they began in fact with the 
strikes in the summer of 1896), the defects in our fighting 
organisations made themselves felt to an ever-increasing 



degree. The government, at first thrown into confusion and 
committing a number of blunders (e.g., its appeal to the 
public describing the misdeeds of the socialists, or the ban- 
ishment of workers from the capitals to provincial indus- 
trial centres), very soon adapted itself to the new conditions of 
the struggle and managed to deploy well its perfectly equipped 
detachments of agents provocateurs, spies, and gendarmes. 
Raids became so frequent, affected such a vast number of 
people, and cleared out the local study circles so thoroughly 
that the masses of the workers lost literally all their leaders, 
the movement assumed an amazingly sporadic character, 
and it became utterly impossible to establish continuity and 
coherence in the work. The terrible dispersion of the local 
leaders; the fortuitous character of the study circle member- 
ships; the lack of training in, and the narrow outlook on, 
theoretical, political, and organisational questions were all 
the inevitable result of the conditions described above. 
Things have reached such a pass that in several places the 
workers, because of our lack of self-restraint and the inability 
to maintain secrecy, begin to lose faith in the intellectuals 
and to avoid them; the intellectuals, they say, are much too 
careless and cause police raids! 

Anyone who has the slightest knowledge of the movement 
is aware that all thinking Social-Democrats have at last 
begun to regard these amateurish methods as a disease. 
In order that the reader who is not acquainted with the 
movement may have no grounds for thinking that we are "in- 
venting" a special stage or special disease of the movement, 
we shall refer once again to the witness we have quoted. 
We trust we shall be forgiven for the length of the passage: 

"While the gradual transition to more extensive practical activi- 
ty," writes B — v in Rabocheye Dyelo, No. 6, "a transition that is di- 
rectly dependent on the general transitional period through which 
the Russian working-class movement is now passing, is a characteris- 
tic feature, ... there is, however, another, no less interesting feature 
in the general mechanism of the Russian workers' revolution. We re- 
fer to the general lack of revolutionary forces fit for action * which 
is felt not only in St. Petersburg, but throughout Russia. With the 
general revival of the working-class movement, with the general 
development of the working masses, with the growing frequency 
of strikes, with the increasingly open mass struggle of the workers, 

All italics ours. 



and with the intensified government persecution, arrests, deporta- 
tion, and exile, this lack of highly skilled revolutionary forces is be- 
coming more and more marked and, without a doubt, cannot but affect 
the depth and the general character of the movement. Many strikes take 
place without any strong and direct influence upon them by the revo- 
lutionary organisations.... A shortage of agitational leaflets and ille- 
gal literature is felt.... The workers' study circles are left without agi- 
tators.... In addition, there is a constant dearth of funds. In a word, 
the growth of the working-class movement is outstripping the growth 
and development of the revolutionary organisations. The numerical 
strength of the active revolutionaries is too small to enable them to 
concentrate in their own hands the influence exercised upon the whole 
mass of discontented workers, or to give this discontent even a shad- 
ow of coherence and organisation.... The separate study circles, the 
separate revolutionaries, scattered, uncombined, do not represent 
a single, strong, and disciplined organisation with proportionately 
developed parts...." Admitting that the immediate organisation of 
fresh study circles to replace those that have been broken up "merely 
proves the vitality of the movement ... but does not prove the existence 
of an adequate number of adequately prepared revolutionary work- 
ers", the author concludes: "The lack of practical training among the 
St. Petersburg revolutionaries is seen in the results of their work. The 
recent trials, especially that of the Self-Emancipation Group and the 
Labour-against-Capital group, 176 clearly showed that the young agi- 
tator, lacking a detailed knowledge of working class conditions and, 
consequently, of the conditions under which agitation can be carried 
on in a given factory, ignorant of the principles of secrecy, and under- 
standing only the general principles of Social-Democracy [if he does] 
is able to carry on his work for perhaps four, five, or six months. 
Then come arrests, which frequently lead to the break-up of the entire 
organisation, or at all events, of part of it. The question arises, there- 
fore, can the group conduct successful activity if its existence is 
measured by months?... Obviously, the defects of the existing organi- 
sations cannot be wholly ascribed to the transitional period.... Obvi- 
ously, the numerical, and above all the qualitative, make-up of the 
functioning organisations is no small factor, and the first task our 
Social-Democrats must undertake ... is that of effectively combining 
the organisations and making a strict selection of their membership ." 


We must now deal with a question that has undoubtedly 
come to the mind of every reader. Can a connection be es- 
tablished between primitiveness as growing pains that 
affect the whole movement, and Economism, which is one of 
the currents in Russian Social-Democracy? We think that 
it can. Lack of practical training, of ability to carry on 
organisational work is certainly common to us all, includ- 



ing those who have from the very outset unswervingly stood 
for revolutionary Marxism. Of course, were it only lack 
of practical training, no one could blame the practical 
workers. But the term "primitiveness" embraces something 
more than lack of training; it denotes a narrow scope of 
revolutionary work generally, failure to understand that a 
good organisation of revolutionaries cannot be built on the 
basis of such narrow activity, and lastly — and this is the 
main thing — attempts to justify this narrowness and to ele- 
vate it to a special "theory", i.e., subservience to sponta- 
neity on this question too. Once such attempts were re- 
vealed, it became clear that primitiveness is connected with 
Economism and that we shall never rid ourselves of this nar- 
rowness of our organisational activity until we rid our- 
selves of Economism generally (i.e., the narrow conception 
of Marxist theory, as well as of the role of Social-Democra- 
cy and of its political tasks). These attempts manifested 
themselves in a twofold direction. Some began to say that 
the working masses themselves have not yet advanced the 
broad and militant political tasks which the revolutionaries 
are attempting to "impose" on them; that they must con- 
tinue to struggle for immediate political demands, to conduct 
"the economic struggle against the employers and the gov- 
ernment"* (and, naturally, corresponding to this struggle 
which is "accessible" to the mass movement there must be an 
organisation that will be "accessible" to the most untrained 
youth). Others, far removed from any theory of "gradualness", 
said that it is possible and necessary to "bring about a polit- 
ical revolution", but that this does not require building 
a strong organisation of revolutionaries to train the prole- 
tariat in steadfast and stubborn struggle. All we need do is to 
snatch up our old friend, the "accessible" cudgel. To drop 
metaphor, it means that we must organise a general strike,** 
or that we must stimulate the "spiritless" progress of the 
working-class movement by means of "excitative terror"*** 

* Rabochaya Mysl and Rabocheye Dyelo, especially the Reply 
to Plekhanov. 

**See "Who Will Bring About the Political Revolution?" in the 
collection published in Russia, entitled The Proletarian Struggle. 
Re-issued by the Kiev Committee. 

*** Regeneration of Revolutionism and the journal Svoboda. 



Both these trends, the opportunists and the "revolutionists", 
bow to the prevailing amateurism; neither believes that 
it can be eliminated, neither understands our primary and 
imperative practical task to establish an organisation of 
revolutionaries capable of lending energy, stability, and 
continuity to the political struggle. 

We have quoted the words of B — v: "The growth of the 
working-class movement is outstripping the growth and 
development of the revolutionary organisations." This 
"valuable remark of a close observer" (Rabocheye Dyelo's 
comment on B — v's article) has a twofold value for us. It 
shows that we were right in our opinion that the principal 
cause of the present crisis in Russian Social-Democracy is 
the lag of the leaders ("ideologists", revolutionaries, So- 
cial-Democrats) behind the spontaneous upsurge of the 
masses. It shows that all the arguments advanced by the 
authors of the Economist letter (in Iskra, No. 12), by 
Krichevsky and by Martynov, as to the danger of belittl- 
ing the significance of the spontaneous element, of the 
drab everyday struggle, as to tactics-as-process, etc., are 
nothing more than a glorification and a defence of primitive- 
ness. These people who cannot pronounce the word "theore- 
tician" without a sneer, who describe their genuflections to 
common lack of training and backwardness as a "sense for 
the realities of life", reveal in practice a failure to under- 
stand our most imperative practical tasks. To laggards they 
shout: Keep in step! Don't run ahead! To people suffering 
from a lack of energy and initiative in organisational work, 
from a lack of "plans" for wide and bold activity, they 
prate about "tactics-as-process"! The worst sin we commit 
is that we degrade our political and organisational tasks 
to the level of the immediate, "palpable", "concrete" in- 
terests of the everyday economic struggle; yet they keep 
singing to us the same refrain: Lend the economic struggle 
itself a political character! We repeat: this kind of thing 
displays as much "sense for the realities of life" as was dis- 
played by the hero in the popular fable who cried out to a 
passing funeral procession, "Many happy returns of the day!" 

Recall the matchless, truly "Nartsis-like" supercilious- 
ness with which these wiseacres lectured Plekhanov on 
the "workers' circles generally" (sic!) being "unable to cope 



with political tasks in the real and practical sense of the 
word, i.e., in the sense of the expedient and successful 
practical struggle for political demands" (Rabocheye Dyelo's 
Reply, p. 24). There are circles and circles, gentlemen! 
Circles of "amateurs" are not, of course, capable of cop- 
ing with political tasks so long as they have not become 
aware of their amateurism and do not abandon it. If, besides 
this, these amateurs are enamoured of their primitive 
methods, and insist on writing the word "practical" in ital- 
ics, and imagine that being practical demands that one's 
tasks be reduced to the level of understanding of the most 
backward strata of the masses, then they are hopeless ama- 
teurs and, of course, certainly cannot in general cope with 
any political tasks. But a circle of leaders, of the type of 
Alexeyev and Myshkin, of Khalturin and Zhelyabov, is 
capable of coping with political tasks in the genuine and 
most practical sense of the term, for the reason and to the 
extent that their impassioned propaganda meets with re- 
sponse among the spontaneously awakening masses, and their 
sparkling energy is answered and supported by the energy 
of the revolutionary class. Plekhanov was profoundly right, 
not only in pointing to this revolutionary class and proving 
that its spontaneous awakening was inevitable, but in set- 
ting even the "workers' circles" a great and lofty political 
task. But you refer to the mass movement that has sprung 
up since that time in order to degrade this task, to curtail 
the energy and scope of activity of the "workers' circles". 
If you are not amateurs enamoured of your primitive methods, 
what are you then? You boast that you are practical, but you 
fail to see what every Russian practical worker knows, 
namely, the miracles that the energy, not only of a circle, 
but even of an individual person is able to perform in the 
revolutionary cause. Or do you think that our movement 
cannot produce leaders like those of the seventies? If so, 
why do you think so? Because we lack training? But we are 
training ourselves, we will go on training ourselves, and we 
will be trained! Unfortunately it is true that the surface 
of the stagnant waters of the "economic struggle against the 
employers and the government" is overgrown with fungus; 
people have appeared among us who kneel in prayer to spon- 
taneity, gazing with awe (to take an expression from 



Plekhanov) upon the "posterior" of the Russian proletariat. 
But we will get rid of this fungus. The time has come when 
Russian revolutionaries, guided by a genuinely revolutionary 
theory, relying upon the genuinely revolutionary and spon- 
taneously awakening class, can at last — at long last! — rise 
to full stature in all their giant strength. All that is required 
is for the masses of our practical workers, and the still larg- 
er masses of those who dreamed of practical work when they 
were still at school, to pour scorn and ridicule upon any 
suggestion that may be made to degrade our political tasks 
and to restrict the scope of our organisational work. And 
we will achieve that, rest assured, gentlemen! 

In the article "Where To Begin", I wrote in opposition to 
Rabocheye Dyelo: "The tactics of agitation in relation to some 
special question, or the tactics with regard to some detail 
of party organisation may be changed in twenty-four hours; 
but only people devoid of all principle are capable of chang- 
ing, in twenty-four hours, or, for that matter, in twenty- 
four months, their view on the necessity — in general, con- 
stantly, and absolutely — of an organisation of struggle and 
of political agitation among the masses."* To this Rabo- 
cheye Dyelo replied: "This, the only one of Iskra's 
charges that makes a pretence of being based on facts, 
is totally without foundation. Readers of Rabocheye Dyelo 
know very well that from the outset we not only called for 
political agitation, without waiting for the appearance of 
Iskra ... [saying at the same time that not only the workers' 
study circles, "but also the mass working-class movement 
could not regard as its first political task the overthrow of 
absolutism", but only the struggle for immediate politi- 
cal demands, and that "the masses begin to understand im- 
mediate political demands after one, or at all events, after 
several strikes"],... but that with our publications which 
we furnished from abroad for the comrades working in Rus- 
sia, we provided the only Social-Democratic political and 
agitational material ... [and in this sole material you not 
only based the widest political agitation exclusively on the 
economic struggle, but you even went to the extent of claim- 
ing that this restricted agitation was the "most widely 

See present volume, p. 18. — Ed. 



applicable". And do you not observe, gentlemen, that your 
own argument — that this was the only material provided — 
proves the necessity for Iskras appearance, and its struggle 
against Rabocheye Dyelo?]. ... On the other hand, our publish- 
ing activity actually prepared the ground for the tactical 
unity of the Party ... [unity in the conviction that tactics 
is a process of growth of Party tasks that grow together with 
the Party? A precious unity indeed!] ... and by that rendered 
possible the creation of a 'militant organisation' for which 
the Union Abroad did all that an organisation abroad could 
do" (Rabocheye Dyelo, No. 10, p. 15). A vain attempt at eva- 
sion! I would never dream of denying that you did all you 
possibly could. I have asserted and assert now that the 
limits of what is "possible" for you to do are restricted by the 
narrowness of your outlook. It is ridiculous to talk of a 
"militant organisation" to fight for "immediate political 
demands", or to conduct the economic struggle against the 
employers and the government". 

But if the reader wishes to see the pearls of "Economist" 
infatuation with amateurism, he must, of course, turn from 
the eclectic and vacillating Rabocheye Dyelo to the consistent 
and determined Rabochaya Mysl. In its Separate Supple- 
ment, p. 13, R. M. wrote: "Now two words about the so- 
called revolutionary intelligentsia proper. True, on more 
than one occasion it has proved itself prepared 'to enter 
into determined battle with tsarism'. The unfortunate thing, 
however, is that our revolutionary intelligentsia, ruthlessly 
persecuted by the political police, imagined the struggle 
against the political police to be the political struggle against 
the autocracy. That is why, to this day, it cannot understand 
'where the forces for the struggle against the autocracy are 
to be obtained'." 

Truly matchless is the lofty contempt for the struggle 
against the police displayed by this worshipper (in the 
worst sense of the word) of the spontaneous movement! He 
is prepared to justify our inability to organise secret activity 
by the argument that with the spontaneous mass movement 
it is not at all important for us to struggle against the polit- 
ical police! Very few people indeed would subscribe to this 
appalling conclusion; to such an extent have our deficiencies 
in revolutionary organisations become a matter of acute 



importance. But if Martynov, for example, refuses to sub- 
scribe to this, it will only be because he is unable, or lacks 
the courage, to think out his ideas to their logical conclusion. 
Indeed, does the "task" of advancing concrete demands by 
the masses, demands that promise palpable results, call 
for special efforts to create a stable, centralised, militant 
organisation of revolutionaries? Cannot such a "task" be 
carried out even by masses that do not "struggle against 
the political police" at all? Could this task, moreover, be 
fulfilled if, in addition to the few leaders, it were not under- 
taken by such workers (the overwhelming majority) as are 
quite incapable of "struggling against the political police"? 
Such workers, average people of the masses, are capable of 
displaying enormous energy and self-sacrifice in strikes and 
in street battles with the police and the troops, and are ca- 
pable (in fact, are alone capable) of determining the outcome 
of our entire movement — but the struggle against the po- 
litical police requires special qualities; it requires profes- 
sional revolutionaries. And we must see to it, not only that 
the masses "advance" concrete demands, but that the masses 
of the workers "advance" an increasing number of such pro- 
fessional revolutionaries. Thus, we have reached the question 
of the relation between an organisation of professional rev- 
olutionaries and the labour movement pure and simple. 
Although this question has found little reflection in litera- 
ture, it has greatly engaged us "politicians" in conversations 
and polemics with comrades who gravitate more or less to- 
wards Economism. It is a question meriting special treat- 
ment. But before taking it up, let us offer one further quota- 
tion by way of illustrating our thesis on the connection 
between primitiveness and Economism. 

In his Reply, Mr. N. N. 177 wrote: "The Emancipation 
of Labour group demands direct struggle against the govern- 
ment without first considering where the material forces for 
this struggle are to be obtained, and without indicating 
the path of the struggle." Emphasising the last words, the 
author adds the following footnote to the word "path": 
"This cannot be explained by purposes of secrecy, because 
the programme does not refer to a plot but to a mass move- 
ment. And the masses cannot proceed by secret paths. Can 
we conceive of a secret strike? Can we conceive of secret 



demonstrations and petitions?" (Vademecum, p. 59.) Thus, 
the author comes quite close to the question of the "mate- 
rial forces" (organisers of strikes and demonstrations) and 
to the "paths" of the struggle, but, nevertheless, is still in 
a state of consternation, because he "worships" the mass 
movement, i.e., he regards it as something that relieves 
us of the necessity of conducting revolutionary activity 
and not as something that should encourage us and stimulate 
our revolutionary activity. It is impossible for a strike 
to remain a secret to those participating in it and to those 
immediately associated with it, but it may (and in the major- 
ity of cases does) remain a "secret" to the masses of the 
Russian workers, because the governm